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"Frieday" Fact: The State of Control

October 29, 2010

At latest count there are at least 18 "control states" in the United States. First, what is a "control state"? No, it's not an over the top description of Miss Jackson (if you're nasty) but a short-form name for a state government that controls the wholesale distribution and/or retail sale of alcohol - whether wine or spirits - to the general public. In some states they control of distribution spirits but allow for the general retail distribution of beer and wine. In the U.S. of the states that control liquor sales only 9 actually run retail stores: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Alabama, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Others either permit licensed retail sales or contract out retail operations. The entire list of control states includes: Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming. (Plus a county in Maryland and a town in Minnesota.) Everyone- from M.A.D.D., to distributors, to consumers, to importers- pretty much has an opinion about whether this set up is a good or bad thing. The State of Washington (where I am from) is opening up this question to the voters this Tuesday. The general argument pits potentially less tax revenue and decreased monitoring versus greater product selection at more locations at potentially cheaper prices. All things for us all to consider. On Wednesday, we'll see what Washingtonian's decide and learn what's the "will of the people". Want to know more about liquor control in the United States? A good review from Wikipedia can be found here and here. You can also check out this from


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