One of the things that I really enjoy is Everclear Grain Alcohol. I don't drink it often, but I like to have it around for special events. It is a conversation starter. How many beverages do you know of that warn you to keep it away from open flames? And at 95% alcohol, they aren't joking.
Last year, a bunch of busy-bodies petitioned the State of Maryland to prohibit this drink because it is allegedly abused by some. According to the Baltimore Sun:
The grain alcohol ban, backed by a group of university presidents as a safety measure, comes amid a growing focus on rape and drinking to excess on campus. Del. Charles Barkley, a Montgomery County Democrat, said increased awareness of the risks associated with grain alcohol bolstered support for the bill he sponsored.
"Getting it off the market will maybe reduce problems at the college level," Barkley said, adding that students have used it to get "bombed out of their mind," putting themselves in danger.
In the 2014 Session of the Maryland General Assembly, State Senator Richard S. Madaleno, Jr. (Democrat, Montgomery County - of course) proposed SB0075 which stated:
( A ) A PERSON MAY NOT SELL AT RETAIL AN ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE WITH AN ALCOHOL CONTENT BY VOLUME OF 95% (190 PROOF ) OR MORE .(B) A PERSON WHO VIOLATES THIS SECTION IS GUILTY OF A MISDEMEANOR AND ON CONVICTION IS SUBJECT TO A FINE NOT EXCEEDING $1,000.
A great deal of energy was expended by our legislators in this debate. In the end, the bill was passed by both houses in the General Assembly and then Governor O'Malley signed it into law. I suppose that they were proud of their work and believed that they made the State a safer place.
Of course, that is nonsense. I know from my training, knowledge, and experience, that it is easy to get piss drunk off of vodka, wine, or beer. Aside from thinking that the law was stupid and not likely to change anything, I resented it as an infringement on my freedom. I resolved to drive to Delaware, where it can still be legally purchased, to stock up on the banned substance. I was going to be a modern day boot-legger.
Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits and spotted a bottle of Everclear. I was surprised. I assumed it had to be a mistake. I picked up a bottle to purchase, thinking I was going to get away with it. Then I looked more closely. It wasn't 95% alcohol. It was 94.5%! I couldn't help but laugh. Here all those busy-bodies spent all that time during the legislative session thinking that they were doing something good. And by a mere half a percent, they were defeated. The free market won! Then I got angry. The time that they could have spent figuring out ways to fix the budget, or to improve education, or reduce crime, or extend freedom was wasted on trying to ban grain alcohol. And they ended up achieving nothing. Who cares about half a percent?
To end on a positive note, I was happy to see that my State Senator, John Astle (D) and my Delegate, Herb McMillan (R), both voted against this law. I was happy to return the favor by voting for both of them in the last election. They both won re-election.