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Robert (DrinkBoy) Hess

NYTimes: Whiskey's Hudson Valley Revival

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- Kübler was in fact unsuccessful in his bid to challenge the FDA position.  Actually, he mentioned it in a conversation I had with him just last week.

 

 

I was unclear in my post, but I meant he was succesful in his challenge to SWISS law, not the FDA. I had no idea he even bothered with the FDA. I must say that's pretty ambitious of a small Swiss distiller to take on the FDA. I salute him for it.

 

It's true that absinthe sale in the US might not generate "lots" of tax revenue for the Fed or States, but there IS money to be made selling absinthe made in the US, if it's good, probably even if it isn't good (I assume Absente turns a profit, that dreck is expensive!). It might not be a lot of money in relative terms to the liquor industry as a whole, but for a small operation like the fellows upstate, it could draw them a lot of attention and new customers. Absinthe will likely always be a niche market, especially in the US, where people don't like anything that tastes like licorice. Maybe we should just all give up and resign ourselves to emptying our wallets for exorbitant trans-atlantic shipping prices because the big bad US law Goliath is too tough to fight, but I for one would at least like to see what happens when these guys try and bring their absinthe to market, even if they get shot down and even if their product is mediocre, because one of these days somebody with real influence is going to say "hey, it's bullshit that absinthe is illegal, let's do something about that". If we resign ourselves to being discouraged by the current status quo, then Absinthe is guaranteed to stay illegal.

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If we resign ourselves to being discouraged by the current status quo . . .

 

The reality of the situation is discouraging, but that does not imply that anyone has resigned themselves to the status quo. Nevertheless, screaming about it from the sidelines is easy. Mobilizing high-profile, hired legal guns in Washington on the other hand is not so easy, and is costly.

 

 

It's sounding more and more like the best solution would be to take the FDA to court and force a decision by a judge instead of the sloth's paced, dinosaur science based FDA.  Which would still require quite a bit of funding.

 

And that remains the stark reality of it. I might add that considering terms like fight and force in this context requires that one be armed with a great deal of credible information to the contrary of the Fed's position. I'm not optimistic that 'armament' of sufficient volume and quantity exists yet where that is concerned. The passage of time however, is on our side.

 

 

I have to leave the discussion now, but I very much enjoyed the topic. Cheers to all of you! :cheers:

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Nevertheless, screaming about it from the sidelines is easy.  Mobilizing high-profile, hired legal guns in Washington on the other hand is not so easy, and is costly. 

 

Here's what I think wouldn't be too hard or costly and would at least get the ball rolling: A small business like the distillery in question only needs to lobby a local legislator and convince them to sponsor a bill (or better yet sneak it in as pork in a popular bill) in the State Assembly that would allow absinthe to be manufactured in New York state. Convincing a local legislator wouldn't be impossibly difficult, as one need only point out that absinthe legalization would draw tourism and revenue to the state while benefitting small business(es) and it might even take dollars New Yorkers are spending on overseas absinthe and put those dollars back into the state. There certainly is a small but hungry market for it, as the response to the New Yorker article proves.

 

After all, they've already passed one law aimed at helping local fruit growers by loosening one hefty alcohol restriction. Last year they passed a law allowing liquor stores to sell booze during normal hours on Sunday. I think the time is ripe. A bill is currently in the NY Senate that got started by Erenzo (the distiller in the article) to allow them to sell their own booze on site, and Assemblyman Kevin Cahill and Senator John Bonacic are sponsoring it. Sounds to me like these guys have the political connections necessary to make things happen.

 

Once a legislature passes something, the buck for determining the legality of it falls on the back of the State and the Feds, not some privately owned business. Sure, it may get struck down on appeal if it makes it to the Federal level, but in a worse case scenario it would garner more attention for Absinthe's cause.

 

If, on the other hand, the makers of an illegal product just make it assuming it's legal, try to put it on the shelves, and then get their wrists slapped, then that's a different story and probably would amount to nothing. Hopefully the distillers in question will take the former approach.

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:drunk: I have resigned myself to the practice of watching from the sidelines, whilst the fur flies and the chests are beaten, the futile attempt to bring back what was once the bell of the ball and was lost thru misinformation and politics.

 

And as I observe this fiasco, with my CLB in my hand, waiting for the Flying Monkeys to arrive. I will lift my louche and toast those who will continue the good fight.

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I have resigned myself to the practice of watching from the sidelines, whilst the fur flies and the chests are beaten, the futile attempt to bring back what was once the bell of the ball and was lost thru misinformation and politics.

Sorry Wray, I think Britney is beyond hope.

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[ Plus politicians LOVE to look like they're on the side of the little guy and small business, as it gets them votes ]

 

 

So might fighting against the legalization of something with such a reputation.

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Proposition 215 passed in California awhile back (the bill legalizing medical use of Marijuana) and they got away with it. How did that get on the ballot? Marijuana is waaaay more controversial than Absinthe.

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He's still clinging to levels

 

Thanks David. I've had discussion with TTB on this and they defer to the FDA

for the rule. If it meets the rule, it is permitted. Less than 10 ppm of

Thujone.

 

R

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Proposition 215 passed in California awhile back (the bill legalizing medical use of Marijuana) and they got away with it.  How did that get on the ballot?  Marijuana is waaaay more controversial than Absinthe.

Marijuana is more contoversial, for sure, and it's "bad side" is more widely demonized. But pot has a "good side", its unique, and widely needed, medical benefit, which mainstream doctors cannot deny.

 

Absinthe is just booze. So even though its bad reputation isn't very bad, it has no unique advantages to counterbalance it.

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No unique advantages? It's the Ultimate Panty Remover™! PTFA!!!

 

I also noticed that Hemlock is allowed as a food additive under FDA regs. How Socratic of them.

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So, the viable options we've come up with so far are something like:

 

1. Get state legislature to sponsor/pork barrel a bill through, then let the FDA (or whomever) take care of the legalities

 

2. Hire a good lawyer and get them to fight in court (as opposed to trying to go through the FDA's testing, etc.)

 

I would be up for either and/or both. And while money may be a problem, the sooner we start taking donations somehow (assuming someone makes this an absinthe community-wide effort) and figuring out other ways to raise money...the sooner it starts.

 

Or...the sooner we start writing politicians (my guess would be ones from New York at this point) and providing them with PROPER information and get them on board for our cause, the sooner it starts.

 

Instead of always talking, why haven't we actually acted? I mean, hell...it's that, or wait for the magic bullet.

 

?

 

Aaron

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Instead of always talking, why haven't we actually acted?

What we? You got a rat in your pocket? What makes you certain that no one is acting? Because it hasn't been announced on a discussion board or the media?

 

First you build a case, then you go to court, if court is necessary (it might not be). As Ted pointed out, right now there may not be enough of the kind (or quality) of data that it would take to win this in court. Also, a defeat would set a legal precedent that could have devastating consequences for the cause.

 

If you know any hot shot, sure-win lawyers that work for cheap (and when I say cheap, I mean for nothing), by all means send them our way. With Johnny Cochran dead, I'm not sure who to turn to.

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From the sound of it some have done some poking around, but it takes money.

 

Going to court.

I'm unsure but most likely before it can even be brought to court someone needs to step up and show 'damages' (or whatever the lawyerist term is) which basically means a company with a product virtually ready for the american market being constrained only by the FDA regulations. Then there are the legal issues. If this is like the Ephedra case the FDA would need to prove tiny amounts of thujone (an indirectly approved chemical) from wormwood is dangerous. Something I doubt they could do. On the other hand if the producers are required to show it is not dangerous I don't think one of those fancy multi-million dollar 10 year human studies has been done yet.

The danger besides a precedent is court costs, which can be horribly expensive.

 

Small companies that produce quality absinthe seem to be reasonable taxed with their current market so expanding into America (more than they already are) would be a waste of money without increased production and logistics before hand, couple that with the danger of loosing and being hit hard financially, it just isn't a good business venture unless it's easy or a guaranteed win.

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No sane lawyer is going to take on that rat's nest of red tape.

 

When Absinthe producers feel they have reached market saturation everywhere else, they band together & try to change the law. Until then...There are always the monkeys.

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There was an article in our newspaper, two in fact. Distilling for alternate fuels. I have misplaced the article but the pics were of a small group of folks building smallish stills for private use. Distilling for fuel is alright as long as there is a permit which gives the Feds a key to your door. Oh, the distiller must add some sort of poison into the mix to deter consumption.

I didn't do any research on this forum before this post.

Forgive me for double posting if I have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wonder if wormwood could be used for that poison.

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I've been saying it for years, I don't know where I picked it up.

 

A lot of folks are distilling ethanol for fuel these days. Now that gas prices are what they are, it's actually more economical. Check out thefuelman.com. Apparently permits are handed out like candy.

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I think the more approaches the better. I like the idea of legalizing small hobby home distilling but that would be a state by state effort.

I also like the idea of it being slipped in a larger bill. Eventially I think they'll opt for switching to the EU limitation because international trade agreements cause a certain amount of pressure if one country refuses importation of a commodity that is legal in all of the others. Also, the record of safety being established in the EU will lower the controversy over time.

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They shouldn't have too hard a time given that the FDA has been letting lots of things slide since a certain president came into office.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/27/health/p...artner=homepage

 

Then again, if absinthe slipped onto shelves under the FDAs nose, I could see it becoming a political football used by people who don't like a certain president to make him look bad.

 

I guess we're fucked either way. In other words, nothing has changed.

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