Alabama Alcohol Regulator Receives 2020 Leadership in Alcohol Regulation Award

September 23rd 2020, 2:00pm

The Center for Alcohol Policy is pleased to announce that Summer Childers, Director of the Licensing and Compliance Division of the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, is the recipient of the Eighth Annual Leadership in Alcohol Regulation Award.  

The award, which recognizes a specific program, agency or person who oversees the alcohol industry and promotes public health and safety, was announced during the Center’s 13th Annual Alcohol Law and Policy Conference.  

Director Childers has served the State of Alabama for 10 years and has become an invaluable resource for the state and local governments, the alcohol industry, and anyone interested in alcohol regulation in the state of Alabama. Ms. Childers was chosen to receive this award because she has dutifully organized and implemented major structural changes within the Alabama ABC as well as served as lead on efforts to review and improve AL ABC Administrative Rules and Regulations. Director Childers is noted for her collaborative effort to achieve fairness and to ensure all voices are heard at the table when seeking solutions to problems.  

Moreover, Ms. Childers’ opinions and insights on proposed legislation are frequently sought after on account of her deep institutional knowledge of the industry and its governing laws. In Alabama ABC Administrator Mac Gipson’s words, “Dedication, perseverance, hard work, and integrity define Summer Childers.” 

“The Center works diligently to promote public health and safety through America’s state-based alcohol regulatory system and strives to educate regulators on the importance of collaborating with varied stakeholders to effectively regulate alcohol,” said Jerry Oliver, Center for Alcohol Policy Advisor and former Arizona regulator and police chief of Richmond, Pasadena, and Detroit. “The Center is proud to present its annual award to someone who is well-known for sharing those same values.” 

We ask that you help us celebrate Director Summer Childers for her dedication to the industry and public health and safety.   

Center releases new paper addressing Covid-19, recent alcohol de-regulations

June 9th 2020, 3:53pm

Today the Center for Alcohol Policy released a report confronting the wave of alcohol de-regulations around the country as a result of the Covid-19 public health emergency. 

The paper titled, “Crisis De-Regulations: Should They Stay or Should They Go?” was authored by Patrick Maroney, the former director of the Colorado Liquor Enforcement Division. Maroney additionally authored the Center’s “Fake Alcohol and E-Commerce” white paper that was released in February.

The report addresses the response by state government officials relaxing certain key alcohol regulations to relieve the financial burden experienced by on-premises retailers due to the spread of Covid-19, and cautions against making permanent these temporary changes. 

Maroney emphasizes that the virus, not state alcohol laws, caused the problems facing on-premise businesses. He notes that alcohol is still dangerous, which should be an important theme when considering the recovery of Covid-19. He additionally notes that although some economic interests may seek an overhaul to current alcohol laws amid the pandemic, the public health cost of such actions would be dire.

“As states begin the long road to recovery in the wake of Covid-19, I think it’s important to recall the words of Augustus: ‘festina lente’ or ‘make haste, slowly’” said Maroney. “Governments had to act quickly when the virus showed up on our doorsteps, but they must now thoughtfully consider the damaging effects that temporary changes to the time-tested laws that govern alcohol regulation will have if permanently codified.”

The paper concludes that although states had to react quickly at the onset of the pandemic, a cautious approach should be taken when contemplating permanent changes to current alcohol laws and regulations as states begin to recover.

“The Center is pleased to offer this white paper to the current discussion of where alcohol regulations are headed in the midst of a pandemic,” said Center for Alcohol Policy Advisory Jerry Oliver. “Patrick Maroney’s recommendations of ‘going slow’ and including all stakeholders such as law enforcement and alcohol regulators will be key to keeping strong the state’s ability to regulate alcohol.”

Center for Alcohol Policy Names Kelly Roberson Executive Director

June 8th 2020, 1:23pm

The Center for Alcohol Policy (the Center), recently appointed Kelly Roberson as its new executive director. Previously working on Capitol Hill and in the private sector, Roberson brings extensive knowledge and experience in policy and marketing.     

“We could not be more thrilled about Kelly’s appointment as executive director of the Center for Alcohol Policy,” said Bob Archer, chairman of the Center for Alcohol Policy and president and CEO of Blue Ridge Beverage Co. “Kelly’s expertise and proven leadership will be a true asset as we work to expand the reach of the Center’s important educational resources, programming and research.”

As executive director, Roberson will lead the organization’s efforts to educate policymakers, regulators and the public about responsible alcohol policy and regulation. Roberson will manage and oversee the day-to-day operations for the Center and provide leadership for sustained growth in fundraising and programming within the arena of alcohol regulation in the United States. Roberson will also serve as the spokesperson and public face of the Center.

“I am excited about the opportunity to lead the Center for Alcohol Policy,” Roberson said. “The Center is a critical voice in the debate about smart alcohol policy that supports communities and protects the public health and safety of consumers and non-consumers alike. I look forward to building upon the foundation laid by my predecessor and working with the Center’s advisory council, board and other stakeholders to take the foundation to new heights.”

Previously, Roberson served as policy advisor and communications director in the U.S. House of Representatives, leading communications on a varied portfolio of issues in the Western Caucus. Most recently, Roberson pioneered the role of National Director of Digital Communications for Conte Bicycle Group, one of the nation’s leading bicycle retailers. During this time, her passion for building strategic partnerships and relationships combined with her overhaul of the company’s digital presence paved the way for exponential growth in both sales and brand awareness.

“Recent events have made the need for education and research about alcohol policy more important than ever, and I look forward to working with Kelly to further the mission of the Center,” added Archer.

A native of Scottsdale, Arizona, Roberson graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University with a degree in Spanish Linguistics and International Business and Management.

Nominations Open for Eighth Annual Leadership in Alcohol Regulation Award

May 6th 2020, 11:34am

Nominations are open for the Center for Alcohol Policy’s Eighth Annual Leadership in Alcohol Regulation Award.

The award recognizes the work of alcohol regulators across the country who oversee the alcohol industry and promote public health and safety. Any governmental agency or its employees working to promote and enforce alcohol laws and regulations are eligible for the award. Potential nominees include programs that have achieved positive results or individuals within an agency going above and beyond the call of duty. 

Last year, Debbi Beavers, director of the Kansas Alcoholic Beverage Control, was the recipient of the Seventh Annual Leadership in Alcohol Regulation Award. 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.

Nominations should provide information on how the nominee serves as an example to others in the alcohol regulation industry. Consideration will be given to how the actions of the nominee are helpful to other agencies or employees, achieve desired results and engage or impact a broad coalition of stakeholders. Self-nominations are permitted, and letters of support are encouraged.

How to nominate:
Nomination forms may be emailed or mailed to: Center for Alcohol Policy, Attn: Leadership in Alcohol Regulation Award; 1101 King St., Suite 600-A; Alexandria, VA 22314. They may also be submitted online here.

The deadline for nominations is July 17, 20205:30 p.m. EDT. Nominations postmarked/emailed after this deadline will not be considered.

For more information, please call (703) 519-3090 or email the Center for Alcohol Policy.

April 21st 2020, 6:10pm

April 21, 2020

Sarah Lamson
(703) 519-3090 

Center for Alcohol Policy Statement on Sixth Circuit Ruling on Lebamoff v. Michigan

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Today the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for the state of Michigan and reversed a district court decision that struck a law preventing out-of-state retailers from selling to Michigan consumers. An Indiana retailer seeking to sell wine to Michigan consumers claimed that the Michigan law is a violation of the dormant Commerce Clause. However, Michigan retailers are required to follow the state of Michigan’s alcohol laws, but Indiana retailers are not. The Center for Alcohol Policy filed an amicus brief in favor of the state of Michigan.

Today, Center for Alcohol Policy Advisor and former Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch released the following statement on the ruling:
“The Center for Alcohol Policy is gratified by the Sixth Circuit’s recognition and understanding of the history of alcohol policy in the United States such as outlined in the amicus brief submitted by the Center for Alcohol Policy and Michigan Alcohol Policy Promoting Health and Safety (MAP). It recognizes that economic efficiency is not the paramount goal of alcohol regulation, but that public health considerations are most important. As today’s opinion shows, reasonable regulations of the alcohol industry, like the Michigan law requiring alcohol sold by retailers to go through in-state wholesalers, are well within the power of state governments. The opinion correctly recognizes the essential role played by the three-tier system in promoting temperance and public safety. The opinion also correctly recognizes that individual states have the right to regulate alcohol differently, and that the three-tier system plays a critical role in promoting the rule of law in each of those states.”


The Center for Alcohol Policy is a 501c(3) organization whose mission is to educate policymakers, 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

Loosening of State Regulations, Direct-to-Consumer Sales Increase Counterfeit Alcohol Risks

March 4th 2020, 10:58am

Center for Alcohol Policy Releases New White Paper Addressing Risks of Fake Alcohol in Interstate E-Commerce

(ALEXANDIRA, Va.) Today the Center for Alcohol Policy (the Center) released its newest report on the need for states to evaluate the risks of fake alcohol stemming from online or interstate direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales in the United States.

The white paper commissioned by the Center and authored by Patrick Maroney, the former top Colorado alcohol regulator, is a follow-up to two Center for Alcohol Policy-funded studies from 2014 and 2017, both authored by Robert Tobiassen, a former chief counsel at the U.S. Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

“From my 33 years of experience in law enforcement and as former director of a state liquor regulatory agency, I understand the importance of America’s strong alcohol regulatory system and its relevancy to public health and safety,” says Maroney. “With the world of e-commerce now an everyday presence in consumers’ lives, this report provides a much-needed analysis on its influence in the alcohol marketplace and significant risks to public health and safety.”

While Tobiassen’s two studies focused on incidents of fake alcohol mostly in the United Kingdom (U.K.) and Ireland as compared to the United States (2014) and the U.K.’s newly regulated alcohol wholesaler system (2017), Maroney’s update discusses DTC sales through interstate e-commerce – specifically how this platform increases avenues for counterfeit products to enter the marketplace around the world.

Maroney points out that counterfeit or tainted alcohol “poses a far higher risk to public health and safety” than most other fake products found throughout the e-commerce marketplace. He also highlights how counterfeit alcohol harms the legitimate alcohol industry.

Since the U.S. three-tier regulatory system for the alcohol industry is designed to protect public health and safety and other interests, the U.S. has been fortunate to see few reported health issues or deaths attributed to tainted alcohol, unlike other countries such as IndiaMexico and Costa Rica. But if the current regulatory system in place is undone by expanding online DTC sales, Maroney warns that it would “increase the exposure of fake and counterfeit alcohol beverage products to the alcohol industry, specifically to the consumer.”

“The Center understands the need for sound research on alcohol regulations,” says Mike Lashbrook, the Center’s Executive Director. “At a time of significant disruption in how consumers purchase and receive alcohol, it is important for policy makers to assess the public health and safety risks to any proposed changes to alcohol regulations.”

The report additionally highlights current state laws that are used to combat fake alcohol and warns against efforts to circumvent these laws in desire for consumer convenience.  

Loyola University Chicago Law Student Wins First Place in Center for Alcohol Policy National Essay Contest

March 2nd 2020, 2:17pm

The Center for Alcohol Policy is pleased to announce that Travis Thickstun, a J.D. candidate at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, has been named the winner of the Center’s Twelfth Annual Essay Contest. Thickstun is also a district commander for the Indiana State Excise Police and holds a Master of Jurisprudence from Indiana University McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis.

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

During the United States Supreme Court 2019 term, the Court announced in June its decision in Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association v. Thomas (TWSRA 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 TWSRA v. Thomas Supreme Court Case provided an extraordinary opportunity for participants to explore the potential aftermath of this decision – the first of its kind in 13 years,” says Center for Alcohol Policy Advisory Council member Brannon Denning. “This year’s winners delivered exceptional research and analysis on the Twenty-First Amendment’s history in the courts and its future in light of Justice Alito’s opinion.”

Thickstun’s winning essay, “The Camel’s Nose Under the Tent: Next Steps for State-Based Alcohol Policy After Tennessee Wine and Spirits”, provides an in depth analysis of courts’ initial interpretations of the Twenty-First Amendment immediately following its adoption and skillfully addresses its historical and complex relationship with the Dormant Commerce Clause leading up to TWSRA v. Thomas.

Thickstun outlines possible next steps for state-based regulation of alcohol and provides policy recommendations – “State legislators, regulators, and the alcoholic beverage industry itself… must enact alcohol policies that can withstand the post- Tennessee Wine Dormant Commerce Clause analysis by basing them on concerns for public health or safety or on some other legitimate nonprotectionist ground.”

Timothy Gervais, a tax accountant in California and now a three-time award recipient, placed second with his essay, “Residency Requirements, the Commerce Clause, and the “Predominant Effects Test”: A Brief Analysis of Tennessee Wine and Spirits Association v. Thomas”.

Gervais acknowledges the difficulty of predicting long-term consequences that stem from any Supreme Court ruling and addresses the reality that changes in alcohol regulation might happen gradually.

Even so, Gervais points out that “one clear implication for future alcohol regulation” from TWSRA v. Thomas is the considerable amount of litigation that is sure to arise from its decision.

Receiving third place for her essay “Erosion or Explosion? The Future of Alcohol Policy in the United States,” Adrienne Southworth, the former deputy chief of staff to a Lt. Governor, addresses what she believes to be a “new era” in alcohol policy following the Tennessee Wine decision, given the “180-degree turns” the Supreme Court has made in its interpretation of the Twenty-First Amendment.

Southworth questions four possible outcomes: Whether this new era could “disintegrate” the three-tier system, the potential for escalated litigation under the Commerce Clause, whether the weakening of state regulations could result in national policy or if state regulations might survive as long as they assume smart solutions.

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

These essays were judged by the Center’s Advisory Council. Judges did not receive any names or personal information about the participants prior to judging.

Floridians Show Strong Support for State Regulation of Alcohol

February 21st 2020, 11:14am

Support exceeds that found in national polls and bridges partisan gap

(TALLAHASSEE, Fl.) – A new poll commissioned by the Center for Alcohol Policy on public opinion toward alcohol regulation found that Floridians are overwhelmingly supportive of the state regulation of alcohol with 91% in agreement that it is very important to keep the alcohol industry regulated. This support is roughly 5% higher than what was found in a national poll on the same topic.

While government regulation of any kind is often viewed through a partisan lens, this doesn’t hold true regarding alcohol: 91% of Republicans, 90% of Democrats and 91% of Independents all agree that the alcohol industry should remain regulated.

Nearly 9 in 10 voters (88%) in Florida are also satisfied with the existing alcohol regulations in their state, and only 8% believe the regulations are too restrictive. The vast majority (68%) believe the regulations are “just about right” or “too lenient” (12%). This level of support and satisfaction top the national data.

“It’s clear that Floridians are among the strongest supporters of responsible alcohol regulation in the nation,” said Mike Lashbrook, Executive Director, Center for Alcohol Policy. “At a time when a few strident voices complain about restrictions on alcohol sales, it is important to note that huge majorities across all demographics support current regulations.”

Additional survey results show that Florida voters want alcohol regulations to prioritize safety. Americans say lawmakers should prioritize “protecting health and public safety” over “creating jobs and improving the economy” or “offering more choices and lower prices.” This support for protecting health and public safety also traverses the partisan spectrum.

Other important findings of the survey demonstrate that Floridians are satisfied with the availability and variety of alcohol products in their communities and express support for the three-tier system of alcohol distribution.

More details on the comprehensive survey may be found here.


The Center for Alcohol Policy is a 501c(3) organization whose mission is to educate policymakers, 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

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

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