Washington State Voters Liberate Liquor
The news from the state of Washington:
Beginning June 1, grocery stores in Washington will begin selling liquor.
That’s the result of a $22.7 million voter campaign that Costco Wholesale led to kick the state out of the liquor business and allow private retailers to sell spirits instead.
Of the ballots tallied Tuesday night, about 60 percent favored Initiative 1183.
Good for you, Washington. I wish my state would do that.
But not everyone is pleased.
The coalition against I-1183 was financed mostly by wine and liquor distributors, who fear that liquor and wine deregulation in the measure will spread to other states.
Distributors particularly dislike that I-1183 allows retailers to buy liquor directly from distilleries. Since Prohibition ended, states have required retailers to go through distributors for liquor, and experts say Washington now might be the only state to tear down that law.
Tom Geiger, communication director for the union representing more than 700 workers in state-run liquor stores, said he thought the results raised questions about democracy itself.
“If a private company decides to spend tens of millions of dollars to pass a new law, to buy an election, can they do it?” Geiger asked. The results in this case, he said, suggest they can.
Liquor and wine deregulation spreading to other states would be good. I am sure distributors would not like it, but it would be good for consumers.
As for Mr. Geiger’s complaint, it is only so much sour grapes whining. The opposition to the initiative raised $12 million. So it is not as if they were not also spending millions of dollars to influence the outcome of the election. And if the situation in money and outcome were reversed, would Geiger be questioning what it means for democracy? I doubt it.
The last vestiges of Prohibition are finally starting to crumble. And the support for the prohibition against drugs is slowly eroding. More people are questioning government control. This is good. The gradual march of liberty continues.