Obama's Illegal Bet

I'm sure most of you heard the feel-good, fun news story during the Olympics about Obama betting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper a case of beer over each of the USA vs. Canada hockey matches. I think that it's great that Obama used the home-brewed White House beer as his end of the bargain. This is pretty savvy on his end really, since he avoided the issue altogether of whether he was going to bet a craft beer or a macro beer. In any case, I'm glad to see home brewing getting some good press.

The part that I really wanted to get into here though--the part that no one seems to have mentioned--is the depressing part of it all. What Obama did was plainly illegal. Now, I'm not writing here to bash Obama--I'm here to bash our ridiculous prohibition-era laws that are still being enforced. The federal statutes state that a beer can be produced at home without licensing or taxation for "personal or family use." The law further states that home brewed beer can be removed from the premise for "use at organized affairs, exhibitions or competitions such as homemaker's contests, tastings or judging." Giving someone a case of beer after losing a bet on a sporting event clearly wouldn't fall under these provisions.

In Kansas we've got even more restrictive regulations. In Kansas you can't legally give a homebrew to anyone but your family members--not even for a competition. There is a bill moving through the KS legislature that will hopefully resolve this issue, but this doesn't really get to the heart of the matter. The government doesn't regulate home cooks, gardeners, artists, or nearly any other hobbyist creating things in their kitchens, back yards, or garages. You can bake a pie and give it to whomever you want to enjoy it--not so with beer.

I understand the effort to tax and regulate commercial alcohol production, even if I disagree with many of the policies. However, I think it is a vast overreach of outdated morality-based laws that restrict me from giving a home brewed beer to a legal-drinking-age friend of mine as a gift. I'm glad to see some baby steps being taken by our governments on these issues, but we've got a long way to go.

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