Prohibition redux?

"The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments next month in a lawsuit that
will, if successful, permit American adults to freely buy beer and wine
over the Internet. (court brief here – Download ny.alcohol.1104.pdf)

It’s slightly bizarre to think that it takes the nation’s highest court
to guarantee online shoppers the right to order a case of fine Merlot or
Pinot Noir from California. You can thank a crowd of pusillanimous state
legislators for that.

Dozens of state legislatures, including those of New York, Pennsylvania,
Florida, Maryland, and Michigan, have slapped severe restrictions on
out-of-state shipments of alcohol. The culprits behind these rules:
Lobbyists for beer and wine distributors, which currently enjoy
profitable markups in the 25 percent range that they stand to lose if
direct Internet shipping becomes legal and popular.

While this unfortunate situation may pad the bank accounts of
distributors represented by the influential Wine and Spirits Wholesalers
of America, it amounts to a tax on Internet shoppers.

No local distributor has the warehouse space to stock products from more
than a fraction of the thousands of wineries and breweries that are
online–which means that aficionados of a rare brew or a less-advertised
vintage are likely out of luck today. The Web site of the
Kendall-Jackson winery, for instance, flatly refuses to ship to
prohibitionist states."

(hat tip – Declan McCullagh, Politech)

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