Center for Alcohol Policy Celebrates 86th Anniversary of the 21st Amendment

December 5th 2019, 11:53am

On this day in 1933, the United States ratified the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, laying down the foundation for today’s state-based alcohol regulatory system. 

Today marks the 86th Anniversary of the passage of the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution, which repealed prohibition and set in motion the regulatory system that we have today.

For over 80 years, the United States and its citizens have benefited from a state-based system of alcohol regulation set forth by the 21st Amendment, which gives each state the primary authority to enact and enforce alcohol laws consistent with the desires and needs of its residents.
Also in 1933, John D. Rockefeller Jr. commissioned a study on alcohol regulation to prepare Americans for the return of legal alcohol. The product, Toward Liquor Control, provided guidance for policymakers as they set up regulatory systems for alcohol. Much of that framework still exists today.
In 2011, the Center for Alcohol Policy republished this book in an effort to help legislators, public health advocates, regulators, industry members and the public understand many of the origins of modern alcohol regulation, why so many of these laws still exist today and how they benefit public health and safety. Since its republication, the Center has distributed over 11,600 copies.
The 21st Amendment and state alcohol laws and regulations are often under attack and ridiculed, and 2019 proved no different. Lawsuits challenging the 21st Amendment have found themselves all over the United States, from coast to coast in California and Connecticut, and in between from Mississippi to Missouri, Minnesota and Texas.

And one particular case found itself in the highest court of the Nation. In June of this year, the United States Supreme Court struck Tennessee’s liquor retail residency law.  As Granholm v. Heald did in 2005, the Tennessee case has already prompted several new lawsuits challenging similar laws in other states. The Center for Alcohol Policy filed a brief in support of Tennessee’s alcohol law, and many additional supporting briefs cited Center funded research and its republished book Toward Liquor Control.
Going forward, the Supreme Court’s decision in TWSRA v. Thomas made it clear that defense of the 21st Amendment and state alcohol laws will require strong public health and safety justifications – as well as other legitimate interests – and the Center for Alcohol Policy has positioned itself as the best resource for states needing to make these arguments.
So on this anniversary of the 21st Amendment, the Center for Alcohol Policy stands ready to defend and protect the state’s authority to regulate alcohol within its borders and promote public health and safety through state-based regulation of alcohol, a time-tested system that has proven effective and efficient for 86 years.  

Center Holds 12th Annual Alcohol Law and Policy Conference with Record Breaking Attendance

September 17th 2019, 11:10am

A Message from the Center’s Executive Director

The Boston Red Sox weren’t in town August 25-27, but the city experienced a few home runs anyway. The Center for Alcohol Policy’s 12 Annual Law and Policy Conference (ALPC) was in town with record attendance and a number of highly rated sessions on topics ranging from the impact of the recent Supreme Court Decision nullifying Tennessee’s residency requirements for retail liquor store licenses to the movement of banning the use of alcohol products containing more than 15% ABV at college fraternities and sororities. 

The ALPC brings together a wide range of stakeholders in the alcohol policy arena to learn about and discuss trending issues and network with regulators, lawmakers, public health advocates, industry representatives from all three tiers. This year set a record in attendance with 160 registrants from 34 states and feedback received from attendees was off the charts.

MA Attorney General Maura Healey was the conference keynote speaker at Monday’s lunch and hit it out of the park with a sincere appeal to all alcohol policy stakeholders to continue the work of supporting responsible alcohol regulation in our communities. As a former basketball point guard at the NCAA Division I level, she stressed the importance of teamwork and praised the Center for bringing together regulators, lawmakers, public health advocates and industry representatives as a team to combat problems associated with alcohol abuse.

ALPC attendees also heard from pollster Lori Weigel of New Bridge Strategy on the results of the Center’s national public opinion survey on alcohol regulation which found strong, continuing support for state based alcohol regulation and the three tier system.

The impact of alcohol regulation on public health and safety was an important theme running through several of the panel discussions held during the conference.  This comes at a time when these public health and safety benefits of state-based alcohol regulation will be instrumental in defending these regulations going forward. As the distinguished panel of legal experts explained in reviewing the recent Supreme Court decision in TWSRA V Thomas, a law’s demonstrated impact on public health and safety will be an important factor in saving it from dormant commerce clause challenges. 

A panel of public health advocates presented case studies of where health and safety concerns were instrumental in defeating alcohol deregulation efforts; and other panels explored the challenges of “problem bars,” the positive impact of liquor law enforcement efforts in addressing a wide range of criminal activity including human trafficking and the continuing challenges of  illegal direct shipping and cross border sales of alcohol.

The 12th Annual ALPC was indeed a hit with so many alcohol regulation and public health professionals there to witness the value of the Center’s work. We trust that more will do the same in the years ahead!


Mike Lashbrook
Executive Director, Center for Alcohol Policy

The Center Co-hosts Arizona Alcohol Policy Forum Examining State-Based Alcohol Regulation, E-Commerce, Public Health and Safety

September 16th 2019, 3:20pm

The Center held its 7th State Alcohol Policy Forum on Friday, September 6 in Scottsdale, Arizona in coordination with the Beverage Alcohol Community Information Council (BACIC)

Lester Jones, chief economist for the National Beer Wholesalers Association, kicked things off with a look at the economic impacts of the alcohol industry, its past, present and future, and specifically within the state of Arizona. Pam Erickson, a Center supported consultant and expert witness on alcohol regulation, presented on how to balance public safety and business needs through effective and responsible state alcohol regulations. 

Additional topics included internet sales, shipping and delivery of alcohol, and the challenges and opportunities that come along with eCommerce in the industry. Representatives from public safety advocacy organizations, industry groups and alcohol regulators discussed best practices for tackling public health issues involving alcohol, while the final panel session debated emerging public policy considerations for the legalization of marijuana, and how it may or may not look similar to historic alcohol regulation.

Lastly, The Honorable Mark Brnovich delivered a dynamic keynote presentation during the forum’s luncheon, where he elaborated on his experiences as Attorney General of Arizona and the benefits of state-based regulation of alcohol. You can view the full program and lineup here

The Center for Alcohol Policy regularly hosts state alcohol policy forums, along with its annual alcohol law and policy conference, that bring together a wide range of experts in the field of alcohol law. Arizona wrapped up the Center’s state forums for 2019, but the Center is excited to hold more throughout 2020. 

Kansas Alcohol Regulator Receives National Award at Center for Alcohol Policy Conference

September 3rd 2019, 11:30am

Debbi Beavers, Director of the Kansas Alcoholic Beverage Control, receives Leadership in Alcohol Regulation Award

The Center for Alcohol Policy is pleased to announce that Debbi Beavers, Director of the Kansas Alcoholic Beverage Control, is the recipient of the Seventh Annual Leadership in Alcohol Regulation Award.

The award, which recognizes a specific program, agency or person with the ability to regulate the alcohol industry and promote public health and safety, was presented by the Center’s Advisory Council at the 12th Annual Alcohol Law and Policy Conference, in Boston, Mass.  

From left to right: Center for Alcohol Policy Advisory Council member Jerry Oliver; Director Debbi Beavers; Advisory Council members Brannon Denning, Jim Hall, and Patrick Lynch.

Director Beavers has served the State of Kansas for over 15 years and has always been known for her honest and thoughtful approach. The Center for Alcohol Policy chose Mrs. Beavers to receive this award because she has led with an appropriate focus on ensuring an orderly and fair marketplace and advocating for responsible policies that protect the well-being of all Kansans. 

Specifically, Mrs. Beavers was selected for leading the agency and the industry through the profound changes that have occurred in beverage alcohol regulations in Kansas over the last two years. Through dialogue with all segments of the industry, community and public health stakeholders, as well as education of alcohol licensees, she dynamically led this transition under the new laws.

“The Center works diligently to promote public health and safety through a responsible state-based alcohol regulatory system and strives to educate regulators on the importance of prioritizing public safety when enforcing state law,” said Center for Alcohol Policy Advisor Jerry Oliver. “The Center is proud to present its annual award to someone who shares those same values, day in and day out.”

2019 Annual Essay Contest Topic Announced

July 17th 2019, 1:08pm

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The Center for Alcohol Policy is now accepting entries for its 12th Annual National Essay Contest. The topic for this year’s contest is:

During the United States Supreme Court 2019 term, the Court announced in June its decision in Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association v. Thomas. Based on the Court’s decision, what do you believe will be the next steps for alcohol policy in the United States?

“The Center’s national essay contest has gained considerable traction over the past decade, and we expect its influence to keep growing,” explains Branning Denning, Cumberland School of Law Professor and Center for Alcohol Policy Advisor. “As regulation of the alcohol industry is often misunderstood, this opportunity provides students and professionals with a chance to evaluate and research it, as well as bring attention to its complexities and successes.”
To Denning’s point, these essays have garnered exceptional success. Some have been republished in other publications; the 2011 winners presented their papers at the annual meeting of the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators; and the 2015 winning essay was cited to the United States Supreme Court in the same case that serves as the topic of this year’s contest.

WHO CAN ENTER: The contest is open to all persons who are over the age of 18 as of December 2019. Students, academics, practicing attorneys, policymakers, regulators and anyone with an interest in state-based alcohol regulation is invited to participate.  
HOW TO ENTER: Entries may be submitted here.
DEADLINE: The deadline for entries is Jan. 17, 2020. Winners will be announced soon after.
AWARDS: Cash prizes will be awarded to the first, second and third place winners in the amounts of $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000 respectively.
Read additional essay guidelines here and view last year’s winning essays here.

Celebrating a Decade of Essays! Free E-book Collection Now Available.

May 20th 2019, 2:31pm

The Center for Alcohol Policy is celebrating 10 years of its annual essay contest that explores alcohol regulation in the 21st century.  Each year, students and professionals are encouraged to participate in this significant effort to bring attention to state alcohol regulation, its complexities and many successes.

The Center has comprised a collection of these essays written by the its previous 1st place recipients from 2008 – 2018, which you can download for free here!

No matter the alcohol regulatory efforts or challenges you may face , we hope that this collection of work will be a valuable resource for you. Several topics available to explore here include:

  • History and importance of the 21st Amendment
  • Recommendations on state-level regulation & policy proposals
  • Alcohol on college campuses
  • The three-tier system
  • Orderly alcohol markets
  • Redefining temperance
  • And more!

Help us celebrate the success of these exploratory essays and the influence they’ve had in the industry over the past decade. Download your free navigable copy today! 

National Survey: Support for State Regulation of Alcohol Bridges Partisan Gap

May 6th 2019, 10:31am

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A new poll commissioned by the Center for Alcohol Policy on public opinion toward alcohol regulation found that Americans continue to overwhelmingly support states maintaining the authority to regulate alcohol within their own borders.  Notably, this support is remarkably strong across political party lines despite the heightened political polarization of today.  85 percent of Republicans, 81 percent of Democrats and 83 percent of Independents express support for alcohol being regulated at the state level.

Key findings from the Center’s survey additionally show that American adults are in favor of a broad array of state-level alcohol regulations and the three-tier system, which separates the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcohol.  In particular, they are satisfied with the consumer choice fostered by the American system of alcohol distribution.  

Additional results indicate that Americans want lawmakers to prioritize public health and safety over convenience and price when weighing changes to alcohol regulations.

“Public support for responsible state alcohol regulation has remained consistently high over the last decade. Despite the many attacks within the industry on regulation and the independent distribution system, the vast majority of Americans remain supportive,” says Jim Hall, former Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board and Center for Alcohol Policy Advisor.  “This steady support cuts across all demographic groups, even the red/blue divide, on nearly all these issues.  Americans clearly agree public health and safety are essential when considering changes to current law.”

Key findings from the survey include:

Americans continue to support state regulation of alcohol.

  • 86 percent of respondents agree that alcohol is a product that needs to be regulated.
  • 82 percent agree that alcohol is different that other products, and therefore should be regulated differently.
  • Support remains high for individual state regulation of alcohol (83 percent).
  • A wide majority support requiring license holders to be a resident of their respective state (77 percent).
  • 76 percent agree that alcohol sold should come through a licensed system for tracking.
  • 87 percent of respondents displayed a high confidence in the safety of alcohol products sold in their state.

Americans are satisfied with current alcohol regulations in their state.

  • 82 percent of Americans continue to be satisfied with the existing system for alcohol in their respective states.
  • Nearly 9 out of 10 Americans are satisfied with the variety of alcohol products available (87 percent).

The three-tier system is viewed very positively.

  • 75 percent of respondents show support for states regulating through a three-tier system, which has been consistent over the past decade, and 3 out of 4 agree that the system works well.

Americans want alcohol laws to prioritize safety.

  • Most Americans reject that alcohol is just like other consumer products.
  • Drunk driving is seen as the most serious alcohol-related problem.
  • Survey respondents want lawmakers address drunk driving first. 78 percent agree reducing drunk driving is a priority, followed by protecting health and public safety (70%) and reducing underage drinking (64 percent).
  • Given the nation’s priorities, it is not surprising that 85 percent of Americans support keeping the legal drinking age at 21 years old.

The survey was conducted by New Bridge Strategy among 1,000 adults ages 21 and older throughout the nation. The interviews were conducted online and distributed proportionally throughout the U.S. and are demographically representative of this age group. The confidence interval associated with this sample is +/-3.5% at the 95% confidence level; with varying confidence for population subgroups within the sample.    

National Poll Finds Strong Support for State Residency Laws Amid Pending Supreme Court Case Re: Alcohol Regulation

April 18th 2019, 4:33pm

ALEXANDRIA, Va. –  According to a  national survey commissioned every two years by the Center for Alcohol Policy, an overwhelming majority of the public supports requiring alcohol retailers to be a resident of their respective state. This is the first time that the Center has tested public support for residency requirements in order to obtain a license to sell alcohol and found that fully 77%of Americans favor these laws.

Additionally, the state residency requirement has overwhelming support across party lines, with 76% of Republicans, 75% of Democrats and 78% of independents in support. Support also exceeds two-thirds in every region of the country and with every demographic sub-group examined. 

These data points emerge at an active time for alcohol regulation given that the United States Supreme Court is currently reviewing a Tennessee state alcohol law relating to durational residency requirements. In Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association v. Thomas the Court is considering whether a state law to regulate liquor sales by granting licenses only to those that have met state residency requirements violates the dormant Commerce Clause. The petitioners in support of the Tennessee Retailers argue that the 21st Amendment gives states the complete authority to regulate the sale of alcohol within their borders. 

It is noteworthy that not only does the general public support residency requirements, but significant members of the alcohol law community and industry do as well. Amicus briefs from 14 different organizations and groups were submitted to the Court in support of the Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association, most notably a brief filed by a bipartisan group of 36 state attorneys general. This brief defends residency laws, but additionally examines ramifications this case could ensue with regard to additional effective alcohol regulations, such as physical presence requirements. The Center for Alcohol Policy also filed a brief highlighting the historical background of state alcohol regulations.

“Laws protecting public health and safety potentially could be at risk with an adverse ruling. The attorneys general of an overwhelming majority of states, both Republican and Democrat, recognize the effectiveness of our system of state-based regulation of alcohol in the US and are determined to educate the high court on the potential impact a decision could have on many state laws,” stated Patrick Lynch, Center for Alcohol Policy Advisor and former Attorney General of Rhode Island

The Court heard oral arguments on January 16, 2019, and a decision is expected by the end of June.

The Center for Alcohol Policy’s national opinion survey results additionally show support for a broad array of state-based alcohol regulation, and this support has been overwhelmingly consistent over the years.

Methodology: The survey was conducted by New Bridge Strategy among 1,000 adults ages 21 and older throughout the nation. The interviews were conducted online and distributed proportionally throughout the U.S. and are demographically representative of this age group. The confidence interval associated with this sample is +/-3.5% at the 95% confidence level; with varying confidence for population subgroups within the sample.  


The Center for Alcohol Policy is a 501c(3) organization whose mission is to educate policy makers, regulators and the public about alcohol, its uniqueness and regulation. By conducting sound and scientific-based research and implementing initiatives that will maintain the appropriate state-based regulation of alcohol, the Center promotes safe and responsible consumption, fights underage drinking and drunk driving and informs key entities about the effects of alcohol consumption. For more information, visit or follow the Center on Twitter at

North Carolina Alcohol Policy Forum Examines State-Based Alcohol Regulation, Public Health and Safety

March 4th 2019, 3:28pm

DURHAM, NC – On Monday, Feb. 25 The Center for Alcohol Policy and the North Carolina Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association co-hosted one of the Center’s state alcohol policy forums, which enjoyed the attendance of over 50 state policymakers, legislative staff, alcohol regulators, several public health representatives, and industry members.

The forum was kicked off by the National Beer Wholesalers Association’s Chief Economist Lester Jones, who provided the audience with an evaluation of the current role that the industry plays in the U.S. economy and industry trends that are taking hold.

The second session included a panel that delved into the public health benefits that stem from proper and effective alcohol regulation. Pam Erickson, former Executive Director of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and CEO of Public Action Management, delivered a brief history of why alcohol has been and should be regulated the way it is, pointing out that “we cannot sell alcohol like we do tires and mayonnaise.” Citing a United Kingdom case study, Erickson described how that country’s “alcohol-related problems became epidemic” after deregulation, and “once you de-regulate, it is almost impossible to go back.”

Following Erickson, Dylan Ellerbee, Chair of the North Carolina Alcohol Policy Alliance, dove deeper into the public health and safety aspects of alcohol control. Ellerbee touched on the current “public health crisis” that stems from alcohol abuse, provided recommendations on how to curtail the high consumption of alcohol, then expounded on North Carolina’s control system, in which liquor retail stores are government-owned.

“Revenue generated per capita is around $30, while for non-control states it’s around $14.” He continued that “North Carolina is 44th of all states in consumption rates and 7th in revenue generated.” Ellerbee concludes that there would be negative repercussions if the state were to do away with its current system.

The forum’s final session highlighted the legal relevance of alcohol regulation and the differences between control system states and license system states. Brannon Denning, a Center Advisor and law professor at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, primarily focused on the significance of Toward Liquor Control right after prohibition and still today, given that it has “provided a road map on temperance, separation of the tiers, licensing and much more.”

Denning additionally updated attendees on recent court cases that are challenging the current system, such as Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association v. Thomas.

Closing the day, Neal Insley, Senior VP and General Counsel at the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA), offered a comprehensive look at “control states” versus “license states.” Insley maintains that while both systems involve shared principles that help curtail problems to keep an orderly alcohol market, “control states tend to have much more control over issues such as pricing and receive more accountability from the state.”

When regulating, Insley emphasizes, “we need to acknowledge that alcohol is not an ordinary product, recognize the important role of science in informing and enforcing regulation, and find a balance between public safety and commercial interests.”

The Center for Alcohol Policy regularly hosts conferences that bring together a wide range of experts in the field of alcohol law. The Center will host its 12th Annual Alcohol Law and Policy Conference August 25-27, 2019 in Boston, Mass. Each year, the event includes attorneys, alcohol regulators, academic leaders, public health advocates and other experts who discuss and debate current alcohol laws and challenges.

Essay on State-Level Alcohol Licensing Wins First Place in Center for Alcohol Policy’s 11th Annual Essay Contest

February 11th 2019, 9:43am

Alexandria, Va. – The Center for Alcohol Policy is pleased to announce that Nathaniel E. Moyer, an associate attorney at Harrison & Moberly, LLP in Indianapolis, has been named the winner of the Center’s 11th Annual Essay Contest. The national essay contest is intended to foster debate, analysis and examination of alcohol policy.

To enter the contest, participants were asked to provide thoughtful responses to the following prompt:

The licensing of individuals and businesses that are involved in the commerce of alcoholic beverages is an important feature of state-based alcohol regulation. Why is licensing necessary for an orderly marketplace, what impact does it have on public health and safety and what are the benefits provided by licensing systems?

“This year’s essay contest gave participants the opportunity to remind us of the importance of strong licensing regulations on those engaged in the commerce of alcohol,” stated Brannon Denning, Center advisor and associate dean and law professor at Samford University Cumberland School of Law, “the winning essays all highlight the public health and safety benefits of this important enforcement tool.”

Moyer’s winning essay, “Drink Local, Think Regional: Implementing an Orderly Alcohol Marketplace Through State-Level Licensing,” argues that the modern licensing system has proven its legitimacy and capacity through accomplishing “the goal of curbing alcohol’s worst excesses while concurrently promoting safe and responsible consumption.” His paper details the harmful impacts of alcohol use, illustrates previous alcohol policy initiatives in America and their effects, describes lessons learned from those policy agendas, and finally dives into the licensing system that exists today and its benefits to the public.

Moyer concludes that the “local regulatory framework model embraced by the 21st Amendment… has proven both durable and sustainable… The clear benefits of the current system should not be lightly disregarded, and wise policymakers will seek to preserve it.

Timothy Gervais, a Staff Tax Accountant at Tidwell & Associates in Rocklin, CA, was awarded second place with his essay, “Benefits of Alcohol Licensing: A Brief Discussion.” Gervais explained how the current “three-tiered licensing system of producers, distributors, and retailers provides a regulatory framework intended to: 1) provide safe alcohol to the consumer, 2) ensure that tax revenue from the sale of alcohol is returned to the state, and 3) discourage public over-consumption while mitigating the negative health and social effects of excessive alcohol intake,” but that meaningful regulation lies in implementation.

Shannon Auvil, a law clerk in Georgia, was awarded third place for her essay, “Creating Order for a Disorderly Product.” Her essay legitimizes the foundation for how alcohol is regulated today, expressing how “most effective public safety efforts are multi-faceted – they consider new technology, various audiences, education outreach, and creative ways to engage the public and make our communities stronger,” all the while being guided by those decades-old principals of an orderly marketplace.

The winning entrants received prizes of $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000 respectively.

Photo Downloads:

Nathaniel Moyer – First Place

Timothy Gervais– Second Place

Shannon Auvil– Third Place


The Center for Alcohol Policy is a 501 c(3) organization whose mission is to educate policy makers, regulators and the public about alcohol, its uniqueness and regulation. By conducting sound and scientific-based research and implementing initiatives that will maintain the appropriate state-based regulation of alcohol, the Center promotes safe and responsible consumption, fights underage drinking and drunk driving and informs key entities about the effects of alcohol consumption. For more information, visit or follow the Center on Twitter at

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Center for Alcohol Policy
1101 King Street Ste 600-A Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: (703) 519-3090