Center for Alcohol Policy Marks Anniversary of 21st Amendment

CAP-LogoALEXANDRIA, VA — On Friday, December 5, the Center for Alcohol Policy (CAP) will commemorate the 81st anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution.

On December 5, 1933, Prohibition ended in the United States when 36 states (the requisite three-fourths majority of the then 48 states) ratified the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution, thereby repealing the 18th Amendment which began Prohibition in 1920. For 80 years, the United States and its citizens have benefited from a state-based system of alcohol regulation, put in place following ratification of the 21st Amendment, which gives each state the primary authority to enact and enforce alcohol laws consistent with the desires and needs of its citizens.

“It’s important for citizens to understand that the repeal of the failed, one-size-fits-all policy of national Prohibition was not the end of the story — it’s where the story of today’s successful system began,” said Patrick Lynch, CAP Advisory Councilmember and former Rhode Island attorney general. “The 21st Amendment recognized that alcohol is a unique product that is best controlled by individual states, and it provided a solution that continues to be effective today.”

“The state-based system of alcohol regulation has been extremely effective at supporting strong marketplace competition while at the same time promoting public safety,” Lynch continued. “America does not experience large problems with bootlegging, counterfeit products or a black market, which were common during national Prohibition and have proven deadly in other parts of the world that lack an effective regulatory system for alcohol.”

A report by Former Chief Counsel for the United States Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau Robert M. Tobiassen,“The ‘Fake Alcohol’ Situation in the United States: The Impact of Culture, Market Economics, and the Current Regulatory Systems,” released at the CAP Seventh Annual Alcohol Law and Policy Conference explains why there are few incidents of fake alcohol products in the United States. The study describes “strong regulatory systems that police the production, importation, distribution and retail sales of alcohol beverages through independent parties” and the country’s “competitive marketplace that provides alcohol beverages at all price points including inexpensive safe (in a quality control context) alcohol beverages thereby negating the demand for fake alcohol (except for moonshine).”

For more information, please visit to watch a video about the origin of America’s state-based alcohol regulatory system and to learn about the CAP’s republication of Toward Liquor Control, written in 1933 to help guide alcohol policy in the states post-Prohibition.


The Center for Alcohol Policy is a 501 c (3) organization whose mission is to educate policy makers, regulators and the public about alcohol, its uniqueness and regulation. By conducting sound and scientific-based research and implementing initiatives that will maintain the appropriate state-based regulation of alcohol, the Center promotes safe and responsible consumption, fights underage drinking and drunk driving and informs key entities about the effects of alcohol consumption. For more information, visit or follow the Center on Twitter