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How a 1909 Law Is Holding Back the Post Office

Senate moves to OK booze-by-mail 103 years later
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2012 9:42 AM CDT
How a 1909 Law Is Holding Back the Post Office
Sending alcohol through the US postal service was banned in 1909.   (Shutterstock)

The Senate has an idea to help save the Postal Service: Let people mail alcohol. After all, FedEx and UPS carry the stuff all the time. But a law from 1909—established 10 years before Prohibition came into effect—bars the Postal Service from shipping "all spirituous, vinous, malted, fermented, or other intoxicating liquors of any kind." Dumping the law, as new Senate-passed legislation would do, could be particularly helpful to the USPS in these days of online shopping, Time reports.

The service would have to be sure to avoid underage buyers; that could be achieved by requiring a signature at delivery, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe says. Meanwhile, it would have to carefully follow state booze shipping laws. Case in point: Only 14 states accept wine from out-of-state retailers. Donahoe, notes Time, is fully in favor of the idea, and has an idea of his own: wine boxes made to specifically house two, four, or six bottles that ship anywhere in the US for a flat rate. (More wine stories.)

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