Earlier this year, Maryland legislators authorized a task force to study potential changes to the state’s liquor laws, as well as who should enforce those laws and regulate the industry. Currently, these responsibilities belong to the Office of the Comptroller. Among other things, the task force will look at whether a different agency might be better equipped to handle them.
The Task Force to Study State Alcohol Regulation, Enforcement, Safety and Public Health is chaired by attorney Bruce Poole, who is a former Maryland state legislator. The task force plans to make recommendations to state lawmakers to consider when the 2019 session begins in January.
One of the issues the task force is studying is how to combat underage drinking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 11 percent of the alcohol consumed in this country is consumed by young people not legally old enough to drink. Too many young people who begin drinking in their teens and even younger continue drinking heavily into their 20s and 30s.
Poole says, “Underage drinkers [are] drinking more alcohol and getting more drunk than they did.” He also notes that young adults into their early 30s are “drinking so much now that they’re having liver failure and liver cancer.” He says that “for those populations the alcohol content has changed, the marketing has changed, but the design of the liver has not.” Young adults are increasingly at risk for liver diseases including cirrhosis and cancer.
The task force is also looking at state laws governing the distribution and production of alcohol and how they compare with those of other states. Poole notes that the task force members’ job is to “just make recommendations,” and that it will be up to the General Assembly to decide what, if any, changes are made.
It’s essential for young people in Maryland and their parents to understand that underage drinking has potential legal consequences. Of course, if an underage drinker is charged with DUI or DWI, those consequences can increase significantly. If your child is facing alcohol-related charges, it’s essential not to let them go through the justice system alone.