Maryland Very Scared of Minors Obtaining Wine Over the Internet

03/15/2008 15:06


Mary Ann Love, chair of the alcoholic beverages subcommittee in Maryland, was kind enough to respond to our request for more detailed insight into her recent decision to not allow wine to be shipped to consumers in Maryland.

She highlighted three key points, each of which noted her concern over minors illegally obtaining wine.

We will let our readers be their own judge. Meanwhile, if you are one of our readers living in Maryland, chances are you have a friend in nearby Viriginia that you can have your wine sent to!

The full explanation she sent us -


March 12, 2008

Thank you for taking your time to contact me over the last few weeks regarding House Bill 1260 which would have allowed wineries and retailers to ship wine directly to consumers. I did not support this bill and there are three reasons why I voted against this measure.

First, the local liquor boards in the State of Maryland and in particular the Anne Arundel County Liquor Board in the County I represent would not have jurisdiction over, or the ability to revoke the license of, out-of-state retailers or wineries. We impose significant consequences upon in-State retailers who sell to minors, but would not have a similar ability to impose these same sanctions upon out of state retailers who ship wine to minors in Maryland. If we cannot closely control the activities of these shippers and discipline them in the same way we do in-State retailers, then it’s my view that we shouldn’t give them the same privileges.

Second, couriers that deliver wine across state lines cannot be properly regulated by the State. A recent Supreme Court decision made clear that whatever policies and procedures we put in place in Maryland to ensure that wine is not delivered to minors cannot be enforced, because they are pre-empted by federal law.

Finally, for wine connoisseurs who seek certain wines that are not currently carried by stores, there is a way to do that. May I suggest that you go to the Comptroller of Maryland’s web page as follows: Go to Compnet and once there proceed to MATT Regulatory Division and on to Alcohol and Tobacco Tax. As you will note in paragraph two under Alcohol and Tobacco Tax it states that “consumers trying to obtain hard-to-find wines and other alcohol products can contact Alcohol and Tobacco Tax at 410-260-7327 to learn about legal distribution alternatives.” While this does not deliver the product to your doorstep, it still provides access to the wine at minimal inconvenience. And, most importantly, it does not open another means for minors to access alcohol.


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