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Policies Regulating Alcohol, U.S.

  • By: Bryan D. Rookey
  • In: Encyclopedia of Drug Policy
  • Edited by: Mark A. R. Kleiman & James E. Hawdon
  • Subject:Public Policy, Drug Crimes

Alcohol is the most widely used legal intoxicant in the United States, and policies regulating alcohol are fundamentally different from those regulating illegal drugs. The U.S. Constitution provides the legal foundation for the wide range of federal, state, and local policies regulating alcoholic beverages. The current constellation of policies controls legal access to alcohol and affects how alcoholic beverages are distributed, sold, and consumed.

During the Prohibition era (1920–33), selling, manufacturing, importing, exporting, and transporting alcohol was illegal under federal law. The enactment of the Twenty-First Amendment in 1933 repealed prohibition and delegated the power to regulate alcohol to states.

Post-Prohibition Alcohol Policies

Federal, state, and local governments have established a variety of laws and policies designed to reduce problem drinking by making alcohol harder to get, ...

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