Prohibition's Awful Aftertaste

We're still suffering from the effects of prohibition

Women turn out in large numbers, some carrying placards reading "We want beer," for the anti prohibition parade and demonstration in Newark, N.J., Oct. 28, 1932. More than 20,000 people took part in the mass demad for the repeal of the 18th Ammendment.

Women protesting against Prohibition in Newark, N.J., on Oct. 28, 1932.

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That raises a corollary: There's an unbridgeable intellectual inconsistency for a country to say that 18-year-olds are mature enough to drive a car, govern (through the ballot), kill or be killed for their country (in the armed forces) and be prosecuted as an adult, but that they are not yet old enough to take a drink. It doesn't add up.

Overall, the lingering effects of Prohibition are dissipating, but it's a slow process. The drinking age isn't going down any time soon, but blue laws are getting rolled back (16 states since 2002 have repealed their bans on Sunday liquor sales, according to the Distilled Spirits Council), and last year Washington became the first "control" state to privatize. The next frontier in the holdover Prohibition fight figures to be on the Web, says Ogle. "There's a real push to try to alter these old laws that place middlemen, the distributors, at the core of the relationship," she says. Cut out the middleman, in other words, and order your favorite craft brew or small batch bourbon online, straight from the producer.

Who knows, maybe the last battles of Prohibition will be settled by 2033 – just in time for us all to raise a glass to the repeal's centenary.

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