Wine-shipping ban belies Maryland's "Free State" motto

The Baltimore Examiner posted the article below about Sen. Joan Carter Conway's concerns with the direct wine shipping bill being "complete and utter tripe" since she is "in the pocket of the powerful liquor lobby":

Wine-shipping ban belies Maryland's "Free State" motto

February 10, 10:21 AM DC Budget Wine Examiner Rob Garretson

Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws
Support Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws by visiting their website


There’s officially a Blizzard Warning in effect for the Washington area (oh, thanks for the heads up!) so the best way to shop for wine today is online. But for roughly a third of the readership of these pages – residents of the great state of Maryland – that is not on option because of the state’s restrictive and ridiculous laws, which make it a felony to ship wine into Maryland from out of state.

Last month it looked like this might finally be the year that the Maryland frees its citizenry. A bill in the state legislature, affectionately known as the "Free the Grapes" campaign, would allow consumers to buy wine from out-of-state wineries and retailers and have it shipped directly to their homes. And the legislation appears to have broad support among Maryland lawmakers.

But now it looks like that measure might be stalled by a lone Senator from Baltimore, Democrat Joan Carter Conway, chairman of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. She has too many concerns to bring the bill up for a vote in her committee, she told the Baltimore Sun, though six of the nine committee members are co-sponsors.

"Conceptually, it's a good thing," Conway told the Baltimore Sun. "There are a few things I'm hung up on, and I don't think those can all be resolved this year."

Her beef with the bill? That underage drinkers buy wine over the Internet. Shippers like UPS, Fed Ex or the U.S. Postal Service won’t be able to verify the age of the person accepting a package containing wine, she says. Plus it will be hard for the state to collect taxes from out-of-state entities or track down and penalize violators.

That’s complete and utter tripe. Clearly Conway is in the pocket of the powerful liquor lobby – including, Montgomery County, which maintains a two-tier alcohol monopoly by law – which continues to defend the state's carefully crafted network of government entities that regulate the sale of alcohol, developed just after the end of Prohibition in 1933. Those laws requires alcohol to pass from producer to wholesaler to retailer before it reaches the consumer.

Dave McIntyre, the wine columnist for The Washington Post presents a detailed refutation of the liquor lobby’s straw-man arguments on his WineLine blog, and made a compelling case in his Washington Post column in January that the status quo in Maryland is patently unfair.

We join him in urging Maryland readers to support the direct shipping cause through Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws by signing their online consumer petition. And if you’re as fired up as we are about this issue, consider e-mailing Senator Conway, or call her office at 1-800-492-7122 1-800-492-7122 , ext. 3145 (toll free) to express yourself.

Wineries with Permits

Wineries Able to Ship to MD

Here is a link to the Comptroller's website. Search for "DW-Direct Wine Shippers Permit" under permit type.

Search for wineries


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