Passage of Maryland Law Demonstrates Effectiveness of State-Based Alcohol Regulatory System

May 09, 2011, 12:18 ET from National Beer Wholesalers Association

CARE Act Would Reaffirm Maryland's and Every State's Authority to Allow Direct Shipping of Alcohol

ALEXANDRIA, Va., May 9, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Maryland will join the nearly 40 states that allow direct-to-consumer sales of wine when Governor Martin O'Malley signs the "Alcoholic Beverages – Direct Wine Shipment" legislation (HB 1175 and SB 248) into law, as expected this week, demonstrating the important role states have in establishing alcohol laws that best serve their citizens.

The Community Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness (CARE) Act of 2011, which has been introduced in the United States Congress with impressive bipartisan support, would protect this new state law and other state-based alcohol laws.  The CARE Act clarifies that states continue to have the authority to make their own alcohol-related decisions as rooted in the U.S. Constitution, and the CARE Act is consistent with a related Supreme Court ruling that protects against supplier discrimination.

The CARE Act would NOT end direct shipping of alcohol. It would actually protect a state's ability to allow direct-to-consumer shipments for alcohol producers.  Specifically, the CARE Act would prohibit facial or intentional discrimination against producers.  In fact, language in the CARE Act mirrors language that the U.S. Supreme Court used in a decision on this very issue in order to ensure out-of-state wineries are not discriminated against.

In short, the CARE Act is about who should make decisions regarding alcohol regulation, not what those decisions should be.

"The new Maryland law will demonstrate that the system is working the way it is supposed to work – with alcohol laws being enacted and changed in the state legislatures by elected citizens held accountable by the public – not in federal courts by unelected judges who live far away," said Rebecca Spicer, National Beer Wholesalers Association Vice President of Public Affairs & Communications.  "The 21st Amendment gives states the authority to make decisions that best reflect the desires of the residents of each state, since the needs, concerns and mores of the citizens of Nevada, for example, may not be the same as those of the citizenry in the neighboring state of Utah.  Nearly 40 states have chosen to pass laws that permit direct shipping of wine. It's important to note that all of these decisions were made in state legislatures – something the CARE Act would reaffirm."

The CARE Act is needed because more than half the states have been sued in federal courts by plaintiffs seeking to reduce the states' ability to regulate alcohol.  The CARE Act will simply help to limit such litigation by clarifying congressional intent and continuing to keep alcohol regulatory decisions at the state level.

"If the system clearly is working the way it is intended to work – like we are seeing in Maryland – then there is no need for all of these lawsuits that are costing states significant amounts of money at a time of record deficits.  As the former Solicitor General of Texas Jim Ho said before Congress, 'If it ain't broke, don't sue'," Spicer concluded.

Within today's effective system of state-based alcohol regulation, America has seen an explosion of new, small businesses which has generated thousands of new jobs as well as vast choice and variety for the consumer.  It is within this system that the U.S. now has more than 1,700 independent breweries across the country, which is up dramatically from just a few dozen breweries in the 1980s.  It is this system that supports the 13,000 labels of beer and the 50,000 labels of wine that are available to consumers from coast to coast.

For more details on the CARE Act, please visit

The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) represents the interests of America's 3,300 licensed, independent beer distributor operations in every state, congressional district and media market across the country. Beer distributors are committed to ensuring alcohol is provided safely and responsibly to consumers of legal drinking age through the three-tier, state-based system of alcohol regulation and distribution.  To learn more about America's beer distributors, visit

SOURCE National Beer Wholesalers Association