Why does North Carolina have these alcohol restrictions?

It’s plenty obvious North Carolina need a better, freer, 21st century system for liquor sales. But it’s a real quandary how we’re going to get there to the satisfaction of all the different government factions involved.

That much is evident from a January 27 article in The News & Observer on how House Bill 971, which would make North Carolina a license state for selling liquor, is unlikely to receive a vote this year. It could lead to more study of the matter.

In the meantime, however, there are plenty of small restrictions in North Carolina on buying and selling legal alcoholic products that are worth asking questions about. For example:

  • Why don’t we let bars and taverns hold “Happy Hours” and offer targeted drink specials like “Ladies Night”? They can in 42 other states.
  • Why don’t we give distilleries more freedom to provide tastings? They’re more restricted here than in 40 other states.
  • Why don’t we let distilleries hold for-profit events? They can in at least 26 other states.
  • Why don’t we let distilleries sell bottles at fairs and farmers markets? They can in at least 16 other states.
  • Why don’t we tax ciders and perries like beer instead of wine? The federal government does. But North Carolina places ciders and perries under a 62 percent higher tax rate.
  • Why don’t we distilleries sell drinks and bottles off-site? They can in at least 21 other states.
  • Why don’t we distilleries self-distribute? They can in at least 21 other states.
  • Why don’t we let bars and taverns offer special drink promotions like 2-for-1, buy-1/get-1-free, buy one for regular price and get the next one for a nickel, buy a meal and get a free drink, etc.? They can in at least 18 other states.
  • Why don’t we let people under 21 consume alcohol in private with parental consent? They can in 29 other states.
  • Why don’t we allow package liquor sales on Sundays or holidays (New Year’s Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, or Christmas Day)? They do in 45 other states.
  • Why don’t we treat alcohol sales on Sundays the same as on any other day of the week? They do in 40 other states.

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

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