Home Opinion Opinion: Make Moonshine Legitimate

Opinion: Make Moonshine Legitimate

4 min read

The United States has been involved in the war on drugs for several decades now, and with state marijuana decriminalization and legalization, this has posed quite a bit of a legal issue. But I believe that there is a long ignored American tradition that deserves to be changed legally before (if) marijuana is.

Moonshine has existed for over 200 years in different parts of Appalachia – for those counting along, that’s circa 1700s – with recipes passed down through generations of ‘moonshiners’ and their families. In fact, President George Washington distilled his very own whiskey— according to Forbes he produced 10,000 gallons of rye whiskey annually, owning one of the largest distilleries in the time period. It proved a lucrative business for Washington, and if moonshine was to be deemed a craft, it might be able to provide some boost to the Appalachian economies.

With recipes for a labor intensive product that often predate the Civil War, and a long history and tradition in Appalachia, I believe that this should be treated as a craft, and ‘moonshiners’ as craftsmen. With strict laws against moonshine and drugs, the United States has the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to track down ‘moonshiners,’ as well as local and state law enforcement. Large fines and jail time are a huge concern for caught moonshiners.

I believe that if the police find moonshiners then they should give them the option to go through the normal legal process, or to have their moonshine sent at their own cost to the FDA and ATF regional facility to be tested for quality via an impartial taste test and some type of FDA quality standard test. If the moonshine reaches a certain threshold, they could consider it a craft, and allow the moonshiner to then sell a fixed amount per month, tax-free – or tax it, either way it will help. This could possibly generate enough money for moonshiners to grow into legal distilleries, which are taxed. It could provide a bit more money to the historically poor Appalachian region.

Most moonshiners, knowing full well the risks involved, are unwilling to stop making moonshine. Why punish people who simply want to carry on a tradition for their family, and for the country? Moonshining has been apart of American History, whether many people know about it or not. If moonshine is going to be produced either way, why not let them carry on their own family tradition? Ultimately, the issue is whether we are going to continue to punish craftsmen for their craft, or reward them for their heritage and skill in their craft.

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