by Jon Sanders
Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies, John Locke Foundation
Last week I wrote about how heavily involved the State of North Carolina is in controlling the distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages here.
Here’s an example. This is a paragraph from Jon Guze’s Spotlight report on the “maze of alcohol rules” in North Carolina:
Forty-three different types of permits and licenses are required for 43 different activities involving the sale of alcohol. In the case of a premise licensed to sell alcohol, a new permit is required for every change of ownership. Gambling devices are forbidden, as are premises with living quarters attached, and all licensed premises must adhere to a recycling plan approved by the ABC.
There is a rule that forbids the owner of multiple premises from moving alcoholic beverages from one premise to another. There is a rule that restricts happy hours and forbids some kinds of drink specials, and another that forbids distilleries that offer tours from selling any specific visitor more than one bottle per year. There is a rule forbidding the sale of alcohol on public college campuses, and another stating that viticulture and enology may be taught only at colleges, universities, and community colleges.
There are rules governing the content of ads for alcoholic beverages, rules governing the size of alcoholic beverages in hotel mini-bars, and rules governing the number of bottles or cans of beer in a “case.” There are rules governing how much alcohol a private citizen may possess and how much he or she may transport into the state. There are rules governing wine tastings. There is even a rule that forbids the sale of alcoholic beverages at bingo games.
Making matters worse, this vast array of rules and regulations is administered by a variegated group of agencies that includes, not only the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission and the Alcohol Law Enforcement Agency, but all the various state and local police forces. These agencies exercise a good deal of discretion in how they interpret and enforce the rules, which makes consistency impossible, compliance confusing, and abuse inevitable.
If you get through all of that, and then you consider it’s just a small handful of the huge stack of rules concerning alcohol beverages, you might feel a little in need of some yourself!