Some regulators are stuck in the past

  • 5 May 2020
  • NormanL

One benefit of our recent economic upheavals has been the exposure of needless rules and regulations. As governments far and wide have suspended or modified regulations to help spur essential economic activity, we've learned an important lesson: maybe we didn't need those rules and regulations at all.

Or at least some are learning this lesson. In the case of a distillery in Hawaii that made hand sanitizer, the regulators are stuck in the past:

Maui Brewing Co. in Hawaii began manufacturing hand sanitizer late in March after shutting down its restaurants and brewery to anything but takeout sales. They've been giving away hand sanitizer with purchases at their Kihei location, and they've also donated more than 1,000 gallons of hand sanitizer to local first responders.

According to media outlets in Hawaii, the company is now in trouble with the Maui County Department of Liquor Control and its overseeing Liquor Control Commission. Maui's extensive liquor regulations forbid anybody with a liquor license from giving "any free goods of intoxicating liquor or other merchandise in the connection with the sale of any intoxicating liquor; or to provide any premium or free goods of intoxicating liquor in connection with the sale of other merchandise."

In other words: It's against the law in Maui to give away hand sanitizer to people who buy liquor from you. And it's also against the law to give liquor away to people who buy hand sanitizer from you.

To be clear here, there's no evidence that Maui Brewing Co. is using hand sanitizer as a way to sell more beer. They have not packaged it for resale. When customers come to their location in Kihei, they can bring their own container and receive free hand sanitizer.

(Mind you, even if Maui Brewing Co. were using hand sanitizer to try to drum up beer sales, there shouldn't be anything wrong with that either. Pandemic aside, this regulation is nanny state nonsense attempting to limit promotional tools targeting drinkers.)

"Nanny state nonsense" is on the calling card of many regulators. Though, to be fair, they are enforcing the edicts of elected officials, who've probably long-since forgotten they gave the regulators such powers in the first place.