Is moonshine legal in Maryland?
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TAX AGENTS CONFISCATE 2 STILLS, MOONSHINE IN MD. Maryland tax agents have seized two copper stills and cartons of moonshine at a site in rural St. Mary’s County and say the homemade alcohol represents more than a loss of tax revenue to the state government’s treasury.
- It’s a health thing,” said Thomas E.
- Gue, agent-in-charge of the state’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division.
- Moonshine operators use lead pipes.
- They run the stuff through radiators.
- We’ve found household lye used to speed the fermentation process, decaying birds, manure, you name it.” Gue spoke in a basement storage room of the State Armory in Annapolis, where he displayed two battered copper stills seized last week in rural Mechanicsville, along with cartons of Mason jars and bottles containing clear, fiery-tasting moonshine.
“We’ll have this tested at the State Motor Fuel Testing Lab,” Gue said, noting the alcohol’s potency. State tax officials said they expect to arrest a man in his seventies and his son, who is in his fifties, and charge them soon with possessing illegal homemade alcohol and the equipment to make it.
The offenses carry a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Authorities withheld the names of the men yesterday because the arrest warrants had not been served. The moonshine seizure was unusual, but not unheard of in Maryland, where officials say about a half-dozen illegal stills are found every year, mostly in Southern or Western Maryland.
In those rural areas, agents say, people still have an appetite for the distinctive taste of homemade “squeezin’s.” “The stuff’s not terribly cheap, at $12 or so a gallon, so we think the appeal is just the taste,” said Marvin Bond, public affairs director for the state Office of the Comptroller, which oversees the collection of tax revenue on liquor and other items.
- Bond accompanied Gue on his inspection of the evidence.
- Although it is legal in Maryland to make small quantities of beer and wine for personal use, making and selling home-distilled liquor is not.
- The lost revenue, said Bond, “adds up to a fair amount of money.” “If it were taxed, we’d get $1.50, plus sales tax, and the feds would get $13 a gallon, for the federal excise tax,” he said.
In St. Mary’s and other rapidly developing counties, Bond said, moonshiners are becoming a vanishing breed.
- “Remember that one,” Bond said to Gue, “who was so old, when we arrested him, his main concern was what would happen to his Social Security check?”
- In some parts of the country, moonshining is a livelihood, passed down through the generations.
- More than 70 illegal stills were discovered in Virginia in the last fiscal year alone, and the practice is considerable enough to warrant a permanent state Moonshine Task Force.
In Maryland, a determined handful of moonshiners still ply their trade, each striving to produce “the perfect recipe, like winemakers,” Gue said. They also develop ingenious ways of hiding their operations. “We’ve found them in pigsties – they do that to mask the odor,” Gue said.
- The liquor is made by heating a copper vat full of fermenting mash, usually a mixture of corn and sugar, using a propane burner, rather than the traditional wood fire.
- The alcoholic vapor that is created turns into a liquid when cooled.
- The fluid produced after approximately 48 hours is generally 90 proof, or 45 percent alcohol, Gue said.
- The room where he and Bond discussed the Mechanicsville case was filled with other seizures from past raids – bags of sugar, bottles of liquor, copper stills of various shapes and sizes, including an oblong “coffin” or “submarine” still.
- The two Mechanicsville stills were discovered accidentally by agents of the Department of Natural Resources, who were conducting an unrelated investigation.
- One still, which was being used to manufacture “brandy” from grape mash, was found in an outbuilding in a back yard, Gue said.
- Gue pulled out one of the bottles and marveled at how the maker had chosen to market it in a wine bottle: “Guess he was looking for a fancier clientele.”
: TAX AGENTS CONFISCATE 2 STILLS, MOONSHINE IN MD.
Is it illegal to own a still in Maryland?
A state license is required for producing alcohol in Maryland. Anyone who possesses a still, even if not in use, can get you a 5-year prison sentence and $500–$1,000 fine. It is also illegal to transport illegal spirits or equipment that may be used in the manufacturing process.
Why can’t you buy alcohol in Maryland?
Can you buy beer and wine at grocery stores? – Yes and no. Generally, buying beer and wine at chain grocery stores is restricted due to a 1978 statewide prohibition. A handful of grand-fathered in chains are among the exceptions. New legislation seeks to create uniform standards to promote purchase options, but needs your support to pass.
Do they sell liquor in Maryland?
Where to Buy Alcohol in Maryland – Not only does Maryland have unique laws about when you can buy alcohol, it also limits where you can buy alcohol. Current law allows for all alcohol to be purchased at free standing stores and licensing prohibits sales at most chain stores.
Can you buy grain alcohol in Maryland?
Despite prohibition being a thing of the distant past, Maryland recently passed a law to ban the sale of 190-proof grain alcohol. On July 1, the new legislation went into effect, and prohibits citizens of the state from purchasing spirits with an alcohol content of 95 percent alcohol or higher.
- Though new forms of anti-alcohol legislation are uncommon, Maryland isn’t the first state to pass a law against grain alcohol.
- At least 12 other states have developed similar laws, including Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
- Supporters of this law say that grain alcohols are much too dangerous and offer college students a fast and cheap way to get dangerously drunk.
“This is a product that college presidents identified as a substantial problem on their campuses,” said David Jernigan, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It packs a wallop that is easily disguised.” Grain alcohol – often dubbed moonshine or Everclear – is favored by college students, thanks to its cheap price and high potency.
- With a proof of at least 190, grain alcohol is twice as strong as other liquors.
- In a report issued last year, researchers found that 20 percent of all Maryland college students showed signs of alcohol abuse or dependence.
- Binge drinking college students are more than 36 times more likely to consume grain alcohol than non-binge drinkers.
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