There was in an interesting op-ed piece in the New York Times a few days ago. A wine blogger, David White (founder of the Terroirist), tackled the thorny issue of shipping wine (and beer and liquor) from state to state in a piece entitled Wholesale Robbery in Liquor Sales.
He begins with this obvious logic:
IMAGINE if Texas lawmakers, in a bid to protect mom-and-pop bookstores, barred Amazon.com from shipping into the state. Or if Massachusetts legislators, worried about Boston’s shoe boutiques, prohibited residents from ordering from Zappos.com.
Such moves would infuriate consumers. They might also breach the Constitution’s commerce clause, which limits states from erecting trade barriers against one another. But wine consumers, producers and retailers face such restrictions daily.
While he’s focusing on wine, the same is true for beer, too. When it comes to alcohol, the general rules of commerce tend to get thrown out the window because — gasp — it’s alcohol, and people can’t be trusted with the stuff. Therefore separate laws have to be set up to protect us from … well, I’m not sure from what. You can order all manner of dangerous things through the mail and have them sent right to your door, from guns and ammo, knives, crow bars along with all the stuff you need to make good size bomb. But try to get bombed and forget it. That’s where the line has been drawn.
It’s been over 75 years since Prohibition ended and few of the laws enacted to ease alcohol back into society have been updated much in that time. The way of the world, I’d argue, is quite a bit different than it was in 1933. The way people do business, both as companies and consumers, has changed dramatically but the laws governing alcohol have remained largely static, in large part because there’s always a hue and cry any time someone suggests relaxing or changing them. White points to wholesalers as having the greatest incentive to keep the status quo, and he’s certainly partly correct, but it’s also the anti-alcohol types and the overarching belief by many that because a few people can’t handle themselves with alcohol, that the rest of us have to suffer under these anachronistic laws that never envisioned the internet or considered that most adults might actually take personal responsibility for their actions.
At any rate, White makes some great points and his article is definitely worth a read.