NEW NC LAW CHANGES THE SALE OF HARD LIQUOR
By: Audrey Henderson
On October 1, 2015, a new set of laws came into effect in North Carolina ranging from abortion to same-sex marriages to medical marijuana. Needless to say, the 2015 North Carolina legislative session was a successful year for conservatives. However, one of these laws in particular affected the sale of spirituous liquor at distilleries. .
“ABC” stands for Alcohol Beverage Control. The ABC Board was established in North Carolina in 1937 after the repeal of Prohibition, and after realizing that a total ban on alcohol was ineffective. The state gave local jurisdictions the opportunity to vote on whether alcohol should be sold in their area, as well as what types should be sold. Some counties voted to create the ABC controlled system, while others were created at the city level. Mecklenburg county, for instance, voted to have the ABC controlled system. It was further decided that hard liquor was only to be sold in ABC stores, not wine and beer. . According to the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association, there are seventeen states and jurisdictions in Alaska, Maryland, Minnesota, and South Dakota that have some type of a controlled alcohol system. .
North Carolina’s laws regarding liquor are as follows: you are not allowed to buy alcohol on Sundays; you cannot purchase alcohol from restaurants or bars on Sundays until noon; and you can only purchase hard liquor from ABC stores. For a long time now, North Carolina has tightly controlled the sale of hard liquor through state-run ABC stores. However, the new North Carolina law allows for the sale of spirituous liquor outside of those stores. This has not been allowed since the time of Prohibition.
The change in the law allows North Carolina distilleries to sell exactly one bottle of its product, per calendar year, to customers. In order to regulate this, distilleries are now required to maintain records of the purchase date and driver’s license of each customer. See HB-909: ABC Omnibus Legislation.
North Carolina has been lagging, for many years, behind other states who allow the sale of hard liquor at distilleries. While this new change may be small to some, it is in fact a significant benefit to distilleries. The North Carolina Distillery Association believes the passage of the law “will grow sales for [the] young industry, expand North Carolina agriculture, create new job opportunities, and encourage tourism across the state.” . Additionally, some owners believe that getting people acquainted with a bottle of hard liquor through distillery tours will result in more profits for them, but also more sales from ABC stores.
On the other hand, critics of the new legislation believe this is a gateway to the privatization of hard liquor. Reverend Mark Creech of the Christian Action League says, “once you start allowing the sale of liquor outside our ABC stores by anybody, you will be hard-pressed to deny that right to others.” . Needless to say, it looks as though North Carolina is taking a small step forward in privatizing the sale of alcohol, thus joining the majority of other states with such systems.