As populated and crowded as this country can seem at times, there are still parts of it that are bereft of humans. There are large swaths of this country in the Midwest and southwest with counties of huge areas and few people. People, particularly from the northeast of this country, don’t get the vastness of this country. Being from large cities or suburbs where everything is close by, it can seem like anything over a 2-hour drive away is the other side of the moon.
This is all started because one state senator in Oklahoma just wanted to drink a good beer at a restaurant. Oklahoma just passed a law to modernize all it alcohol regulations. One of the main portions of the new law is the elimination of the 3.2 beer. In short, 3.2% ABV beer is the beer sold in grocery stores and convenience stores and bars and restaurants. To buy real beer you must go to a liquor store.
The new law makes it legal for everyone to sell normal beer. However, bars and restaurants can only sell beer over 3.2 if the county has liquor by the drink. The law will be phased in over the next two years so counties that do not allow liquor by the drink currently will have the chance to approve it via referendum during that time.
Now, the beer distributors in Oklahoma and the breweries in Oklahoma have all pretty much said they will stop carrying 3.2 beer because it is an extra cost and hassle to deal with. There is a very real possibility that the remaining 18 dry counties in Oklahoma will have no beer at any restaurants in 2 years.
While that seems to be a problem on its surface, these are counties of large areas with small populations. They are filled with small towns with little money. For many of these towns, while alcohol and drugs are illegal there, they still pose a major problem.
Alcohol laws in this country are fascinating for a very simple three-step reason. Step 1, alcohol is legal to sell in the United States. Step 2, each state regulates the manufacturing and sale of alcohol. Step 3, each county (or equivalent) in each state decides where alcohol can be manufactured and sold. To sum up, you have 50 different ways alcohol is regulated for sale and then you have somewhere around 3100 different localized implementations of those regulations.
I know and understand that the counties in each state interpret the state laws the same with the only difference being dry or being wet because otherwise, distribution would be a nightmare. However, that simple difference is huge because a county can be wet, but individual cities and towns in the county can be dry. Also, individual cities can be wet, but not have liquor by the drink or Sunday sales.
At some point, I’m going to jump in the rabbit hole and go through each state’s alcohol laws. I have become fascinated how each state regulates alcohol sales and how they are different and how they are interpreted differently by different parts of the country, different states, and even different counties in each state.