With the ratification of the 21st Amendment in 1933, prohibition came to an end. The federal government, as well as the several states, exercising their new-found authority to regulate the substance, began passing laws to provide for its manufacture, consumption, and possession. And amid the deluge of subsequent legislation, the federal legislature was kind enough to allow for in-home production of wine; but they apparently forgot about beer. In fact, it was not until 1979 that the home brewing of beer was legalized under federal law.
Following that change in federal law, most states passed their own laws to legalize the home brewing of beer. But the disparate treatment of beer continued in many states, especially Mississippi. Under Mississippi Code Annotated section 67-3-11, in-home production of wine has been legal for almost eighty years, since February 26, 1934; but home brewing beer is still illegal. And until July 1, 2012, beer in Mississippi was capped at an alcohol content of 5% by weight; wine and distilled spirits, for all intents and purposes, were not so restricted.
But an ever-increasing population of craft beer enthusiasts and affiliated organizations, such as Raise Your Pints (RYP) and the American Homebrewers Association (AHA), are on a mission to change all of that. In 2012, after many attempts, RYP successfully lobbied the state legislature to amend Mississippi Code Annotated section 67-3-5(2) to raise the allowable alcohol content of beer to 8% by weight (roughly 10% by volume). And in light of their success, RYP and AHA are now fighting to legalize the home brewing of beer in the state.
But on the other side of the aisle, some legislators and their constituents continue to resist attempts to expand the beer market. Their arguments take on many forms, including speculation that legalization of home brewed beer will lead to increased rates of abuse and DUI among both adults and teens. But according to the AHA’s website, home brewing will not appeal to those looking for a quick, cheap buzz. Home brewers generally spend hundreds of dollars on equipment and ingredients, and spend weeks or months to make their beer. AHA also maintains that home brewers are more akin to connoisseurs of fine wine or food instead of bootlegging alcoholics; they appreciate the science and craft of the hobby and tend to advocate responsible alcohol consumption. And AHA and RYP note that home brewing beer has been legalized in 48 states without the ill effects contemplated by their opponents; only Mississippi and Alabama continue the home brewing prohibition.
So with the urging of RYP and the state’s beer hobbyists, Senator John Horhn of Jackson, Mississippi has introduced Senate Bill 2183, which proposes to amend section 67-3-11 to allow for the home brewing of beer. On February 7, 2013, the bill surprisingly passed the senate with a vote of 40 to 11, and it is currently awaiting assignment to an appropriate house committee for a vote there. And in light of the fact that past attempts at such legislation have never passed committee, supporters are anxiously awaiting the house votes.
For more information on Mississippi’s alcohol-related laws, DUI law and defense, and related matters, please visit our website: http://www.mississippidui.com/