The Baltimore Sun

Liquor law loopholes can put children at risk

As a parent and a small-business owner, I'd like to commend The Baltimore Sun for its call to tighten underage drinking laws ("The forgotten dead," editorial, Jan. 18).

As the statewide task force on drunken driving cited in the editorial reported, "A significant number of other states have taken action to reduce underage drinking through the deterrence of license suspension."

It's time to act to protect our kids. The members of my association will stand with Gov. Martin O'Malley to get this done.

We believe that thoughtful checks and balances and responsible regulation will keep our families safe. Education and stern consequences for misconduct can prevent underage drinking, but more is needed. Requiring face-to-face alcohol-purchase transactions also is key, so that licensed sellers of alcoholic beverages can card buyers and be held accountable for ensuring that they are of legal age.

As part of the general push toward deregulation, some people have called for the state to allow direct shipments of alcohol to residences - cutting out liquor boards and other regulators. But last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states cannot require delivery personnel to check IDs.

We need to be careful that as we tighten some rules, we don't open new loopholes.

As we're painfully learning, deregulation can backfire. And we need to take every reasonable precaution possible to protect our kids.

Chuck Ferrar, Annapolis

The writer is president of the Wholesale Retail Association.

Decades of drug war leave streets unsafe

As a retired police detective and student of history, I believe the only way to "clean up" Orchard Mews of the violence associated with the drug trade is to end the prohibition of drugs ("Two sides of the street, but one problem bedeviling both," Jan. 25).

After 40 years of drug war, we still have large parts of Baltimore and many other major cities in America that are more dangerous than the streets in Iraq. This madness of prohibition has not produced one positive outcome. So why are we still on this failed road?

Howard Wooldridge, Frederick

The writer is a retired police officer and an education specialist for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

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