North Carolina is the 10th fastest growing state in the nation which means we have lots of new folks moving here every year and one of the curiosities about the Old North State that many have to come to terms with are the laws governing alcohol sales.

North Carolina has 170 local Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) boards that control the sale of alcohol in their municipality or county.  Although you can buy a mixed drink in a bar or restaurant, if you want to buy liquor for off premises consumption, you have to purchase it from a state ABC store.  The laws are based on a model created 80 years ago and some people think it’s high time for change.

Rep. Jon Hardister, from Whitsett is a primary sponsor of a bill to bring about that change and allow the sale of “off premises spirituous liquor” (even the language is archaic) by private businesses.

If the bill passes, the state would continue to heavily tax and regulate the sale of alcohol, or in the state’s terms spirituous liquors, but the state would get out of the business of selling alcohol at the wholesale and retail level.

According to Hardister, the current ABC system reduces consumer choice, lacks innovation and limits the opportunities for private businesses.

He said, “It’s time for the government to get out of the business of selling liquor and focus instead on regulating it.  The licensure model would keep the ABC Commission in place and maintain government revenue, but it would also allow private businesses to grow and thrive. Private enterprise will always do a better job of running a business than a government-sanctioned monopoly.”

Hardister noted that the 170 different local ABC boards making their own decisions on product selection and revenue distribution, “is an inefficient, cumbersome and outdated model and it needs to be modernized.”

In the past Hardister who is vice chairman of the House ABC committee, has worked with craft brewers to update the laws governing beer sales and distribution.