State-Protected Alcohol Cartels Don’t Improve Public Safety

Alcohol-related deaths in states, grouped by level of regulation on sales and distribution of alcohol.

In the post-prohibition days of the 1930s, Michigan set up a monopoly distribution system for beer, wine and liquor. In response to a proposed law which would let brewers and winemakers sell directly to consumers, the prime beneficiaries of the current system played the “safety card.”

The Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association, one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Lansing, told MIRS News:

“For decades, Michigan has been a national model for successful common-sense alcohol regulations that balance strong economic growth in beer and wine with the need to protect public health and safety,” said Mike Lashbrook, president of the group. “This is clearly not a serious proposal because it will set Michigan back.”

ForTheRecord says: Research shows this “public safety” argument to be false. An analysis of alcohol-related deaths and the extent to which alcohol is regulated shows no correlation with safety. In fact, states with less restrictive regulations have less alcohol deaths per capita on average than states that are the most regulated (see image nearby).

The state is being “set back” though: Research also shows that current laws make Michigan beer and wine more expensive for consumers, retailers and businesses in the hospitality industry.