End pointless alcohol policies

Cheyene Miller, Managing Editor

Cheyene Miller

This year has been a progressive one for alcohol sales in Kentucky. Voters in Harrodsburg unofficially approved the sale of alcohol in small restaurants, and the vote will open the door to sales in bars and retail stores. 

Voters in London, located in the notoriously religious Southeast region of the state, went completely wet in January and approved alcohol sales in retail stores after approving sales in restaurants and bars a few years prior.

While these city voters deserve some applause for their push toward common sense policy, one must address the inebriated elephant in the room and ask why in 2016 we are still debating over the commercial sale of alcohol. Prohibition ended in 1933 because it was a colossal failure.

When local jurisdictions prohibit the sale of alcohol, this does not stop those craving a beer from acquiring it. It’s an age-old dilemma: How do governments stop someone from accessing a product if they really want access to it? They can’t.

When members of a community want alcohol but can’t purchase it down the road, they will simply drive to the nearest county and buy alcohol from that jurisdiction, giving revenue to other counties.

Opponents of legal alcohol sales typically say they want to prevent accidents and deaths related to intoxicated driving, but research from the Kentucky State Police shows that dry counties have higher rates of DUI-related car accidents and deaths than wet ones. This should not be a huge shock, as people have to drive further distances to get their hands on alcohol and often have to drive back. Much of Kentucky has limited access to taxi services.

Researchers from the University of Louisville found that dry counties, which London used to be, have higher rates of meth lab busts and meth-related crimes. London has long been notorious in the national media for meth use and production. As the Louisville research shows, meth lab seizures in Kentucky would decline by about 25 percent if all Kentucky counties went wet.

Citizens in the remaining dry counties of Kentucky should speak with people from urban areas and other regions of the country. People unfamiliar with dry counties will stand in awe at the realization that there are still places where selling alcohol is prohibited.

Allowing alcohol sales within local jurisdictions promotes economic growth, leads to job creation and keeps local dollars in local businesses. Prohibiting alcohol sales is correlated to an increase in the abuse of other substances and is shown to increase DUI-related accidents and deaths. 

The anti-alcohol arguments are weak. It’s time for all Kentucky counties to join the 21st century (actually, the 20th century).

Cheyene Miller is the managing editor of the Kentucky Kernel.

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