This week North Carolina banned the 190-proof version of Everclear from its state-run liquor stores. Why? Because it's too strong. As the chairman of the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission explained, "young adults drinking nearly pure alcohol are especially vulnerable to alcohol poisoning." Another ABC official declared that virtually pure grain alcohol is "probably the most dangerous product we sell" and has "no redeeming social value."
Meanwhile, Colorado is cracking down on bars and restaurants that sell light beer. Why? Because it's too weak. Unlike the North Carolina ban (which is similar to the policies of 14 other states), the Colorado rule is justified not by invoking idiots who die of alcohol poisoning after chugging Everclear right from the bottle but by arbitrary regulations that say grocery and convenience stores may sell beer no stronger than 4 percent alcohol by volume, while bars and restaurants have to stick to beer above that threshold. The long-ignored alcohol floor is being enforced at the urging of the stores, which want to eliminate competition in the watery swill market.
[Thanks to David Harsanyi for the Coloradio tip and to someone whose email I misplaced (possibly Barton Hinkle?) for the North Carolina tip.]