Mississippi Takes a Few More Steps Away from Prohibition

By Hunter Estes
May 21, 2021

Prohibition was ended decades ago, yet it continues to leave a lasting legacy on the state of Mississippi.

Whether you prefer beer, liquor, wine, or no alcohol at all, most folks can agree that Mississippi retains a range of laws that unfairly hamper the free market when it comes to the alcohol industry.

A range of bills seeking to open the market and expand consumer options were introduced in the legislature this year. Here is a recap of what passed and what failed:

Delivery of Alcohol from Local Liquor Stores: (Success) One can now successfully order alcohol from local liquor stores. Using Drizzly, PostMates, UberEats, or any other delivery app that provides options for the purchase of alcohol, a new permit allows for individuals to bring alcohol right to your front door.

Direct Shipment of Alcohol from Out-of-State: (Failure) While you can successfully order alcohol and have it sent to your door via an app, don’t try to order wine or liquor from out of state. Mississippi continues to bar its citizens from enjoying alcoholic beverages from other parts of the country. If you think it’s a bit unreasonable that you can have alcohol sent to your door through an app but can’t have it delivered from another state, then we’re on the same page.

Distillery Sales Expansion: (Failure) This bill would have expanded the ability of distilleries to sell drinks on their premises. The adjusted permit would have empowered distilleries to more effectively compete by selling their products on site for consumption.

Ending State Prohibition: (Failure) Mississippi is technically still a “dry” state. However, policy allows for counties to have a vote and opt to become “wet” and allow for the sale of alcohol. This process is extremely burdensome and restrictive. This legislation would have switched the procedure and made Mississippi open to the sale of alcohol unless a county otherwise voted to be “dry.”

Removal of State Monopoly on Distribution: (Failure) An attempt was made to remove the state entirely from its monopoly over the distribution of alcohol. Unfortunately, this bill failed. You may have noticed chronic shortages and limited supplies at your local liquor store. This problem largely rests with the consistently delayed, backed up, and slow distribution system. 

All of Mississippi’s liquor runs through one warehouse. The warehouse represents central planning at its finest. Local stores have difficulty getting more niche drinks and orders are constantly delayed. Why our state continues its failed attempt to compete with the market by crowding out all other potential distributors continues to astound me.

The bill would have ended the state’s monopoly over distribution and created a range of permits for private businesses to step into the gap and take advantage of the new economic opportunities which are currently being stifled by the government.

This would be a win, not only for the free market and those who oppose government centralized planning but also for small businesses and consumers. Liquor stores should face less delays and back-ups and also have a wider array of options as to what they would like to stock. Consumers are more likely to see their preferred drink on the shelves and also gain access to the larger variety of drinks that could be available.

Sale of Wine at Grocery Stores: (Failure) Unfortunately a bill that would have expanded the ability for grocery stores to sell wine failed. It is likely that this continued prohibition on the sale of wine is incentivizing some businesses from entering the state market entirely.

Authorization of Microbreweries: (Success) This newly passed legislation changes the state code to allow for the authorization of microbreweries. This is a win for the free market, especially since recent statistics show that Mississippi is last in the nation for microbreweries per capita.

When it comes to alcohol, Mississippi has a long way to go in order to end its command-and-control system and establish truly free market policies. While this year’s legislative session has brought about some success regarding microbreweries and alcohol delivery, true alcohol freedom remains elusive. Hopefully, next year, we will be able to raise a glass and cheer a wider set of policy successes.


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