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Kentucky Finally Giving Liquor Prohibition Laws the Boot

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Though it has long been associated with some of the country’s best whiskey, a good portion of Kentucky is—ironically—almost entirely dry, but that is starting to change. Last Tuesday, Kentucky’s Cumberland and Metcalfe counties, as well as the cities of Williamsburg and Mayfield, decided it’s finally time for a drink. They’re voting to fully open legal alcohol sales, and they’re not the only ones.

Since 2014, 23 cities and counties in Kentucky decided to repeal the outdated drinking laws in favor of new, more lenient laws. As thirsty residents heave a sigh of relief, so do city officials who hope the new “wet” laws will benefit local economies.

“In my opinion, as places nearby go wet, people are able to see that, if regulated appropriately, alcohol sales can be a benefit for a community as opposed to a nuisance,” Carol Beth Martin, Kentucky’s malt beverage administrator, told the Lexington Herald Leader. “Alcohol sales oftentimes bring increased economic development to the community as well as provide an increase in tax revenue addressing quality of life issues in their community.”

Why the change of heart (and vote)? Aside from the potential economic gains, many Kentucky counties have seen a shift in locals’ attitudes towards alcohol. For years, church members and leaders have fought to outlaw drinking, but that’s not the case as often anymore.

“They just don’t see it as a battle worth fighting,” said Don Cole, a Baptist minister who heads the Kentucky League on Alcohol & Gambling Problems. “They’ve got too many other things that they see as more important than this, and some are social drinkers.”

Just the excuse we needed to crack open a bottle of bourbon tonight.

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