On Booze Regulation: We Were Wrong

YES, IT HAPPENS … RARELY || By FITSNEWS ||  We don’t often admit we were wrong about something because let’s face it … we’re almost never wrong.  Seriously, it’s happens like once every February 29. Well … almost. In a recent story discussing the revenue implications of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes…


|| By FITSNEWS ||  We don’t often admit we were wrong about something because let’s face it … we’re almost never wrong.  Seriously, it’s happens like once every February 29.

Well … almost.

In a recent story discussing the revenue implications of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes (we support decriminalizing all drugs for medical and recreational purposes, btw), we made a very lazy statement.

What was it?

“This website has long advocated for the decriminalization of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, and we believe commercial activity associated with decriminalized pot (and other drugs) should be regulated and taxed in a manner consistent with the way alcohol is regulated and taxed,” we wrote.

Our goal was to demonstrate marijuana and other recreational drugs are not all that dissimilar to alcohol … and should not be unfairly regulated or unduly taxed.

So maybe it wasn’t so much a lazy “statement” as it was a lazy “sentence fragment, because we assumed “the way alcohol is regulated and taxed” in South Carolina was fairly straightforward.  Turns out it’s anything but.

Not long after we pressed “publish” on our latest pot manifesto, we received a call from one of our founding editor’s favorite lobbyists alerting us to H. 3375, a piece of legislation introduced by S.C. Reps. Bruce Bannister, Derham Cole, Jenny Horne, Murrell Smith and David Weeks.

This legislation purports to establish a new limit on liquor licenses in the state: One for every seventy-five hundred residents.  It also enables license holders to sell their state-issued certificates – provided a $5,000 fee from the sale goes to state government.

“You like those regulations and taxes?” she asked us.

Proponents tell us the new law is the “free market” at work … and they’ve reportedly even got a group of Upstate “Tea Partiers” lined up to make the argument.

But is it “free market?”  Having done some digging on this legislation, we’ve discovered it is yet another example of crony capitalism at its worst.

“There has been a lot of behind the scenes movement this session among some big box retailers and some of the nation’s biggest liquor distributors,” a source familiar with the legislation told FITS.  “They have retained a large number of lobbyists and consultants to try and influence the General Assembly into changing our state’s liquor laws in a way that would create several large monopolies.”

The prime beneficiary of the intended monopolies?  Walmart … which amid financial struggles is desperate to make good on its promise to create 4,000 new jobs in the Palmetto State by 2015.

(You know, if you want to call them “jobs“).

According to our sources, the new liquor regulations have been written specifically for the big box retailer – which is hoping to boost its profit margins by selling liquor at each of its South Carolina “Supercenters.”

Another group pushing the change?  Total Wine and More – a Maryland-based company which has been under investigation by the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and which currently has a case pending before the S.C. Department of Revenue (SCDOR).

According to our SCDOR sources, Total Wine’s business model is built around defying state liquor laws so as to maintain an unfair competitive advantage over smaller retailers.  And they reportedly have some very, very cozy relationships at the department enabling them to continue their defiance at a minimal cost.

Needless to say these corporate behemoths have plenty of resources to pump into their fight.

“They are throwing so much money around it feels like video poker 2.0,” one S.C. State House insider told FITS, referring to prior well-funded efforts at legislative coercion.

Personally we don’t think state government should limit liquor licenses – period.  If South Carolinians wish to manufacture, distribute and sell spirits – then they should be allowed to do so free from regulatory overreach.  And their product should be taxed at the same rate as other products and services.  Furthermore, if Walmart wishes to carry liquor in its stores, we don’t think government should stop them from doing so – although that would probably be yet another “mom and pop” sector of the state’s economy that would bite the dust as a result.

But this legislation doesn’t strike us as “free market,” it strikes us as amending the state’s existing laws in an effort to gift-wrap an unfair competitive advantage to the major players in the industry at the expense of smaller and mid-size retailers.

Naturally we will continue to follow this debate as it progresses … specifically any amendments to the law.

We’re also in the process of preparing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the S.C. Department of Revenue in an effort to get more information on Total Wine’s business practices within the Palmetto State.

Stay tuned …



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I have a pebble in my shoe February 25, 2015 at 1:29 pm Reply
Victorious Secret February 25, 2015 at 2:06 pm

Thanks for that overly broad and generalized statement–given with no context.

All that aside, this claim is pointless when you frame the question of morbidity rates taken by ratio in comparison to number of uses equaling fatalities. This is not apples to apples.

But I guess it sure sounds good, doesn’t it?

I have a pebble in my shoe February 25, 2015 at 3:02 pm

I’m sorry the graph was confusing to you.

Bible Thumper February 25, 2015 at 4:15 pm

Heroin, cocaine, tobacco, ecstasy and meth are all safer than alcohol according to your graph. Possible flaw in your logic is that typical human intake may rise if they are legalized. You make an argument for making alcohol illegal because the typical human intake would decline.

shifty henry February 25, 2015 at 1:40 pm

Knob Creek — my favorite bourbon (mmmmm!)

sparklecity February 25, 2015 at 7:30 pm

Make mine George Dickel (White label = 90 proof) not that clear shit they have been marketing lately. Been sipping & throughly enjoying Dickle white label since 1974!!!!!
Only two “Tennessee” whiskeys: Dickel & Daniels (“Black Jack” dumbed down to 80 proof some years back)…..I know,I know, both are owned by the same company…………..but Dickel white label is way smoother as far as I’m concerned……………….
Ancient – Ancient Age ain’t bad either and is a good burbon (again 90 proof) and is a good value.
Then there’s “Maker’s Mark” the only bourbon for an “Old Fashioned” as far as I’m concerned!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

shifty henry February 25, 2015 at 9:28 pm

I’ll try a jug of the Dickel White Label…..

FastEddy23 February 26, 2015 at 10:00 am

… And Old Overholt over? … Roll her over and give her some D….

(… there! He’s back!)

shifty henry February 26, 2015 at 10:59 am


FastEddy23 February 26, 2015 at 1:10 pm

Multiple crude jocularities possible:

“Roll her Over, Holt, I feel the need for a Dickel.” … Will those Maker’s Marks come off? Or do ya need you’re Knob polished first, Jamie? … ” and on and on and on.

I guess you do need more coffee …

sparklecity February 28, 2015 at 9:30 pm

“Old Overholt”!!! I know a thing or two about “Old Overholt”: = “Supposedly” the favorite “slam” of ‘Doc” Holliday!!!!!

I’ve have had several “slam’s” of “Old Overholdt” and that is all that it is fit for!!!!

FastEddy23 March 2, 2015 at 4:24 pm

My Grandmother had one cigarette per day along with Her double slug of Old Overholt, everyday just as the Sun was over the yard arm. A “flapper” of the 1920’s, She lived to be 97.

FastEddy23 February 26, 2015 at 9:59 am

That stuff is poison … Knob polish at best.

(Shifty … slow day? Wake up and smell the coffee :>)

Victorious Secret February 25, 2015 at 2:00 pm

I, for one, am quite content with “keeping the little man down” (in this instance) when “the little man” is a shabby and shady hole-in-the-wall liquor joint that happens to be in an extremely high-crime area.

The free market is great. Just remember the entire premise of the free market’s unadulterated success rests on the idea that people deal in honesty and integrity. Oh, and that people don’t screw up and harm or kill other innocent people.

Uh huh February 25, 2015 at 3:01 pm

” Just remember the entire premise of the free market’s unadulterated success rests on the idea that people deal in honesty and integrity. ”

…and what dictionary are you using to come up with that definition of “free market”?

What a total non-sense statement.

nitrat February 25, 2015 at 3:45 pm

new name…lobbyist…

GrandTango February 25, 2015 at 2:56 pm

Do you REALLY think anyone gives a F*#k…???…To waste ALL that (WAT too gray) type following up on an even less relevant initial post…You are one self-important, vacuous Some Beech…
We ELECT people to decide these issues…how you feel about them matters not one F*#king bit…And since you are on the WRONG side of almost EVERY election in SC…you relegate yourself to an even LESSER status than most of us…
If a candidate from the Narcissist Liberal-Tarians ever gets in..maybe you can shill for that stupid MoFo…..LMAO…

Lol February 25, 2015 at 5:55 pm

PS: I guess I’m just as guilty of wasting time…

You think??

E Norma Scok February 25, 2015 at 7:05 pm

“but at least I’m interesting to read, and I produce compelling content…”

No, you’re not, and no, you don’t.

You just aren’t very smart.

GrandTango February 25, 2015 at 7:28 pm


Try To Keep Up February 26, 2015 at 10:04 am

Talk about being “interesting to read” and producing “compelling content”.

GrandTango February 26, 2015 at 10:16 am

It you got your lazy and vapid @$$ off the gay porn site didn’t it???…LMAO…

Try To Keep Up February 26, 2015 at 10:30 am

Here’s a quote from you a week ago: “One truth about written expression, is if you are intellectually dishonest or just corrupt , it is revealed in your words…That’s your biggest problem…aside from your irrational and baseless hate… ” Hmmm, isn’t that interesting. You couldn’t possibly be describing anyone other than yourself right here. You don’t ever address any substance that I bring up. You just circumvent and obfuscate, exactly like your lord-god Obama does at all his press conferences. Don’t flatter yourself. We know who you are and your words reveal exactly who you are. They reveal you as nothing more than a vapid, profane, and intellectually lazy animal. Channel Al Franken much?

Bible Thumper February 25, 2015 at 3:57 pm

This reminds me of the old tobacco allotments. My memory is bad, but the way I remember it, the allotments belong to the property. Two neighbors would have identical land, but the land with the allotment would be much more valuable. That is the definition of crony economics. No reasonable economic justification for one property to be worth more except a special privilege to grow tobacco.
Why should anybody be able to sell a liquor license and profit off a government regulatory fee?

FastEddy23 February 26, 2015 at 9:54 am

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

mrbraindead12 . February 25, 2015 at 5:17 pm

Decriminalization? So you’d rather everyone who smoked marijuana or partook in recreational drugs to pay a fine? I’d call for blanket legalization and regulation before I’d call for decriminalization, but if decriminalization will save lives and keep people out of prison so be it. But there’s a vast difference between decriminalization, and legalization. The former still contains a criminal element, the latter refers to regulation and approval of substances for my consumption. If we regulate the market for more quality drugs, educate people about drugs, and maybe even educate people about alcohol too (some people just don’t realize how dangerous it really is) then maybe it would work. Because, I don’t know about any of you fine people, but “Just Say No” and “Drug Awareness Resistance Education” did not prevent me, my friends, acquaintances, and millions upon millions of other people from trying drugs. It’s time to cut the schtick and actually start educating people instead of negatively reinforcing an idea that human beings (or other animals for that matter) are capable of staying sober and not altering their consciousness with drugs. Oh, and we can thank the “great” Dick Nixon for the Drug Enforcement Act.

The Wealth of Patrons February 25, 2015 at 5:57 pm

If this passes, someone should start the “Uber Drunk” personal delivery service and get stalked by Greene’s while the PSC stands there with their wankers in their hands. But seriously, who do these dopes think will be left to rent the crummy commercial space their buddies own after this? SC apparently won’t be satisfied until every bit of wealth is extracted from its people. Why not give a tax break for some new distribution centers while we’re at it?

scotty February 26, 2015 at 2:04 pm

I would doubt Wal-Mart would sell it but they have liquor departments in Sams Club in various states. Total Wine has been pushing for more licenses as they want to locate in the Forest Acres area.


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