US bill could lift drinks post banBy Neal Baker
A century-old ban on sending alcohol through the US Postal Service could be lifted if a new bill makes its way through Congress.
The USPS Shipping Equity Act has been introduced to the House of Representatives by Californian Democrat Jackie Speier. The proposal seeks to overturn a 1909 law that prohibits beer, wine or spirits being sent through the national postal service.
It is hoped that the move will free up licensed brewers, distillers and winemakers to promote their business through posting samples to potential retailers or even full bottles directly to consumers.
Backers of the bill also claim it could help increase business for a postal service suffering from falling demand, and provide fairer competition between USPS and private delivery companies like Fed Ex.
However, if passed the law will still be reigned in by a constitutional precedent that allows state lawmakers to overrule federal laws when it comes to alcohol regulations. State-by-state, the law regarding the sale and movement of alcohol in the US varies massively, especially when it comes to transporting liquor across state borders.
The bill does not make it legal for unlicensed individuals to use the USPS to privately send alcohol. It also prohibits the recipients of alcohol deliveries from selling the products on to a third party.
Bob Pease, CEO of the Brewers’ Association, which represents US craft beer companies, told Brewbound that he was “generally supportive of reforms that allow for beer to be shipped to legal drinking age adults,” as the country’s burgeoning beer industry could benefit significantly from the changes.
However, drinks wholesalers are more cautious about the bill, as its proposals could cut them out of the alcohol shipment process.
Rep. Speier introduced a bill by the same name to the House in 2013, although it was eventually held up at the committee stage.