Illinois lawmakers are considering a bill which would allow for at-home liquor delivery. It draws a dubious response from this corner.
The basic motivation behind the plan is laudable. During the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses of all stripes have been hurt financially, and any new path toward building revenue would ease the pain. As Alec Laird, vice president of government relations with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, told The Center Square: “This is something that helps your mom-and-pop retailers and your consumers.”
But it also presents one troubling possibility that gives reason to take pause.
While access to mood-altering drugs has expanded greatly in recent years, alcohol remains the most common option and is already quite easy for underaged people to acquire.
But if this law passes, an option that could prove the easiest will emerge. Just picture a situation where a group of youngsters gather for a party. Most are under 21, but one or two in the crowd are old enough to purchase liquor. They place the order, and take the delivery while the others stay out of sight.
As the bill stands to be discussed during a lame duck legislative session in Springfield this week, the rules must be spelled out before it can advance, and the hypothetical situation described above must be considered. But frankly, it’s hard to imagine how any rule can prevent these circumstances from occurring.
One might argue booze and other drugs are so available, what difference does it make if they come right to the door?
Well, merchants of banned substances might deliver their goods that way, but products available for legal purchase still have to be bought in-store by legitimate customers. That includes cannabis made legal in Illinois last year, and for the moment, there are still no licensed dispensaries in Kankakee or Iroquois counties.
We can’t altogether stop those under age 21 from using these harmful products. But we can make it harder for them to obtain, and this proposed law seems to do the opposite.