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TheGreenOne

American Absinthe - The Time Is Now

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Since Ted has declined the honour of kicking off a campaign to legalize absinthe in the US, perhaps another established distiller and/or vendor will take up the challenge.

 

Specifically, if a credible party were to announce their intent to open a small absinthe distillery in New Orleans, it could lead to a serious campaign to change absinthe's legal status.

 

New Orleans desperately needs to re-establish tourism-generating businesses. An absinthe distillery (and bar) would be the perfect high profile way to help start restoring the city. Such an announcement would have the possibility of providing what absinthe has lacked for quite some time, support from political and economic stakeholders.

 

An announcement coupled with a formal commitment to adhere to stringent European safety standards for thujone and providing the supporting scientific data could force the FDA to confront their antiquated ban on thujone in alcoholic beverages.

 

The FDA wouldn't even need to lift the ban completely. Instead an N.O. absinthe emporium could serve as a pilot project with no additional absinthe facilities permitted until a major safety study was completed. Starting with absinthe available only in New Orleans would not only be beneficial for securing support from Louisiana for the project, it may also seem less scary than completely lifting the ban.

 

The time has come to start a public campaign for American absinthe.

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First, I whole-heartedly agree.

I've always disagreed with the prevailing attitude on the other forums that legalization is a hopeless cause not worth investigating.

Public awareness is the key. And a very public attempt to start a project like you're talking about, could go a long way to bringing the issue into public light. Once the hipsters of this country realize that the U.S. is last on the bandwagon to lift the ban, our pride in our national hipness will be offended, and things could start to happen very quickly.

 

I agree that TAB, poised as he is to be the spearhead of such an effort, would be an excellent choice. He could easily pull together some media attention, as he already has, Were he to mount even a half-hearted effort to do something so high-profile and outrageous, the media would be ALL OVER IT. Come on: Cajun Chemist tries to revive the Green Fairy and his Home Town? ( don't know if he's actually of 'cadien descent, but the name sounds like it ) He may just have more on his plate than he can handle right now?

 

As far as limiting it to LA, I'm not sure how easy it would be.If this is a federally controlled subsatnce, it may be difficult or impossible to selectively lift the ban. Yes, they have a different system of law in LA than the rest of the country, but it's still the U.S. Yes, we have dry counties and wet counties, but this is different.

I'm not saying I disagree with the "limit it to LA" idea, because I think you're right about the adavantages that would give LA, as far as a local monopoly that would help them rebuild, and thus the enthusiasm they might develope for the plan.

I'm just not sure you could make a case for selling a federally banned substance in any one place.

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Sazerac would have the cash for such an endeavor, but since 1998 all of their production was moved out of NOLA to their main distillery in Daniel Boone country.

 

Intriguing idea, but one of the majors would be hard pressed to locate a distillery away from their main production.

 

The bottom line is always the bottom line.

 

Unky Sam's T-boys aren't going to give up any regulation turf without a big fight, I don't see that happening anytime soon.

 

That being said, I wish I didn't have to go through all the hoops for a bottle of hooch, I should have chosen better for my hobbies. (Try pouring money in a hungry Cessna sometime)

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I don't know that it would be that hard for Sazerac to locate a single small distillery away from their main facility, particularly if production were intended only for local consumption without the need for national distribution logistics.

 

Besides, think what the publicity would be worth.

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Capital idea! I'm a bit nervous about the NOLA bit myself, though.

 

I personally don't care where the distillery is located; it's still a matter of where the marketing is focused/targeted.

 

I think it may be a bit early to announce a "campaign" as such, but it's a laudable undertaking.

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I also don't care where an American distillery would be located. The only advantage to New Orleans is that it might provide the opportunity to put some business and political muscle behind the idea.

 

As for timing, getting final approval will be a time-consuming process. Building early support/public awareness is important. On the other hand, I can see where laying some groundwork prior to any annoucement is essential.

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I don't know that it would be that hard for Sazerac to locate a single small distillery away from their main facility

 

 

It wouldn't be hard for them to do it, but when you invest a lot of money in a large modern distillery, it makes more economic sense to have your production located there.

 

Saz's own words were: "We built a large modern distillery at Buffalo Trace, and it didn't make economic sense to produce Herbsaint in NOLA anymore".

 

Couple that with the logistics of setting up production for a beverage that doesn't have aproval from the Fed's, and you are looking at bruised forehead from hitting the wall.

 

It might make an interesting episode of The Apprentice.

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If anyone has the bucks to back it, he does.

 

Too bad Bill Gates doesn't want to help out, as no one has bigger pockets than him :) . Unfortunately the legalization of absinthe will not come to fruition anytime in our future. It's a fringe substance, and to the average beer guzzling American, it's largely unknown. The part about a ton of money to make it happen is true, as this is how the FDA works. Moreover, the FDA is too busy approving drugs that kill people like Vioxx and Phen-Phen to worry about doing something intelligent like dispelling rumors about thujone. Sorry my friends, I'd love to see it but. . .

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We must keep the faith grasshopper. That wired article is one of the best stories in print media to come out lately. I do not know Ted or care about his hair gel, but it was at least a positive article that will hopefully generate sincere interest in real absinthe as we know it.

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I should have said better stories. I do like the fact it puts an American face on the issue of absinthe. Just tryin to give some positive vibes to KB. Yes, the recent Reason magazine article was good. I am not sure it made the print version. If it did, feel free to give me a toe in the crack(or not ;) )

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If only someone would make and market absinthe as an Herbal supplement tincture, then they could legally challenge the FDA to prove the levels of thujone in absinthe are dangerous or allow the product to pass (as per the Ephedra case).

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Too bad Bill Gates doesn't want to help out, as no one has bigger pockets than him :) .

 

Actually, the Walton family does. And they happen to live around me. In fact, I've met some of them... Not that'd they'd go funding some pissant musician's drive for getting good booze back on the shelves. We can dream, can't we? :cheers:

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PTFA now.

 

European law means s h i t.

 

Louisiana law means nothing.

 

U.S. Federal law states that no product with thujone in it can be sold as a consumable product in the U.S. It is not possible to absolutely exclude thujone without excluding wormwood, and then it wouldn't be absinthe. Case closed.

 

Only an idiot would venture capital on a distillery to make an illegal product. Neither Ted nor New Orleans needs that kind of attention at this point in any case, and neither has the money to fight the unlimited resources of the U.S. government in court. Neither does Bill Gates, as has been demonstrated to him by the government.

 

If that were not enough, the mayor of NOLA has been kicked right dead in the ass for suggesting gambling (legal) as a way of bringing New Orleans back. And he's going to entertain the idea of allowing an absinthe distillery? Step away from the absinthe bonque, please.

 

Also, the FDA does not have to prove that anything is harmful. The maker of the product has to prove that it's not.

 

I do like the fact it puts an American face on the issue of absinthe.

 

I find this statement offensive. This article caught the attention of people who couldn't be bothered to seek out this website, and others like it, which have been around for years. The article had less crap in it than most other articles about absinthe. Big deal. Americans have been in the forefront of bringing real absinthe back for years, and that was going to happen if Wired had never existed and the newbies it attracted to these forums had never heard of absinthe.

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Ok...I never meant to offend(not really sure how it could offend still). However I disagree with some of that. I do not not know for sure but I think if one was to poll all the members of these forums it would be found that many were introduced to absinthe through false pretenses and then found their way to these forums through further research and shown the "truth" about absinthe. Thats the way it was for me and many others who introduce themselves here. I also know that there are those who have been into absinthe for years. Sure, their may be those who read about King o Spirits in High Times or whatever and buy it and thats the end of that. Is it a bad thing that the article was written and attracted more attention to these forums? Or is it that it's Ted's face on the article.

I agree that Americans have been highly involved in bringing Absinthe back. I will also say that alot of what I have learned was dissiminated from posters who reside overseas. If I am that ignorant please let Hiram know and he can flush me down the pipes.

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PTFA now.

 

It is not possible to absolutely exclude thujone without excluding wormwood, and then it wouldn't be absinthe.  Case closed.

 

Only an idiot would venture capital on a distillery to make an illegal product. 

 

Artemis, unfortunately you're dead-on . IMO, it's a done deal. However, it's not an illegal product. . It's "quasi-legal" to import, and there needs to be a distinction here. I think we need to realize we have it good in so far as we (as a collective group) obtain something from "across the pond" that doesn't have the trouble some things do like Cuban cigars. Our Government doesn't play as lightly, as it's considered (dealing with Cuba) "trading with an enemy." Bay of pigs and all. Your average Customs agent is most likely similar to a DEA agent. . Average intelligence, full of adrenline and testosterone, not sure what the hell they are looking at. In this post "9-11" era, what is deemed "important" to search and seize by Customs is vastly different than 20 years ago.

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Bill Gates, eh?

 

Bill has, of late, invested big $$$ in malaria control projects. Given absinthe's history as a treatment (sic) for malaria and the now well established value of artemisinin (from "sweet wormwood" [Artemisia annua]) as an anti-malarial...

 

Perhaps a custom distillery making an anti-malarial absinthe with "sweet wormwood"...

 

Two birds, one stone, and Bill enters both the booze and pharmaceutical industries in one swell foop.

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Ok...I never meant to offend(not really sure how it could offend still)

 

Your statement is correct as far as it goes, but it didn't go far enough. If you had said that the article put an American face on absinthe to a group of people who didn't know it already had one (or even didn't have a clue about any facet of absinthe), I could accept it without reservation. That article was a drop in the bucket to what this forum, Fee Verte, and others have already done, for years, to a potential audience vaster than that which Wired will ever reach.

 

Is it a bad thing that the article was written and attracted more attention to these forums? Or is it that it's Ted's face on the article.

 

I don't know if it's a good thing to bring more attention in the U.S. to absinthe, especially in that sort of venue. Only time will tell. As for Ted, he is a personal friend of mine. He deserves all the credit he can get. There are others who deserve credit, many of them are Americans, and they never get featured in magazines. People who read that article and come here will certainly understand that in time. I want to make it clear right up front.

 

If I am that ignorant please let Hiram know and he can flush me down the pipes.

 

I have zero influence with Hiram and he wouldn't do that even if I asked him, which I wouldn't.

 

However, it's not an illegal product. . It's "quasi-legal" to import, and there needs to be a distinction here.

 

Quite right. For all practical purposes, that makes it an illegal product. Production in New Orleans would be pointless unless it were all shipped out of country for sale, is what I was getting at.

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Some corrections and comments.

 

European law means feces.

Yep, unless the US is trying to harmonize itself with the EU (it has a long way to go though, take food colouration, many EU allowed dyes are illegal in the US and many US allowed dyes are illegal in the EU.)

 

U.S. Federal law states that no product with thujone in it can be sold as a consumable product in the U.S.

Not quite. Thujone is not allowed as an additive and must be removed from some thujone containing plants, but not all. A product can easily have thujone in it as long as it comes from a non thujone banned plant.

This means very little to us since Wormwood is one of those banned plants, however it is important to remember the odd and contradicting rules of the FDA.

 

Also, the FDA does not have to prove that anything is harmful. The maker of the product has to prove that it's not.

True as it applies to food products, but incorrect as it applies to Dietary supplements (as I mentioned in the earlier post). This was supported with the recent Ephedra ban repeal. It was argued that being a dietary supplement the FDA needed to prove Ephedra when taken correctly was harmful before they could ban it, since they couldn't the ban was repealed.

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Artemis, I am glad you responded the way you did. I understand now why you got a bit upset with the lack of depth of my comments. They were directed at those who may read the article who have never heard of absinthe. My apologies. I know there is a lot going on at different levels within members of these forums which I still cannot figure out. I will not attempt to pin anyone down in the future. The last thing about talking to Hiram, well, that was typed in haste. Believe me, most of what I know about the green fairy was learned from you and other folks at feeverte. WS was an invite only site. LL well, I could learn a couple of new cuss words I suppose. Wish we could have a drink sometime :cheers:

Not kissin' ass...splunge

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Is it a bad thing that the article was written and attracted more attention to these forums? Or is it that it's Ted's face on the article.

 

However, it's not an illegal product. It's "quasi-legal" to import, and there needs to be a distinction here.

 

Quite right.  For all practical purposes, that makes it an illegal product.  Production in New Orleans would be pointless unless it were all shipped out of country for sale, is what I was getting at.

I fully agree about putting to rest the idea of absinthe being legalized to import to the United States. . Hence, that's way I said earlier. ."we have it good. ." However, I want to stress again, absinthe in not an "illegal product" as you're saying. It's incorrect statements like that perpetuate a false mystique. Absinthe is a classic example of "smoke 'em if the got 'em." No one gives two s h i t z if you're buying it. U.S Customs personnel don't sit around twisting their moustaches seeking out absinthe. Maybe to the misinformed this adds to their buzz, but it's silly. Absinthe is a wonderful drink, and I feel we should just enjoy the fact that it's "fringe" enough not to draw scrutiny for those who could "put the squeeze" on the Green Fairy. I'm now going to pour my third glass of Un Emile 68 and put my headphones on.

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I'll be back in the morning to correct a number of factual and legal errors, but for now, I'm too smashed on some of the best clandestine Barley Eau de Vie I've ever tasted and I'm going to go watch a movie with Mrs. Hiram. I think maybe I'm going to get lucky tonight.

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Batman Begins really rocked! Best Batman movie ever! (we almost always wait for the DVD) I've come to the conclusion that almost anyone can play Batman with good writing and direction, it's Bruce Wayne that makes or breaks the role. Christian Bale did a pretty damned good job. I didn't like that whole "years of training in the mountains of Tibet" thing they kiped from Dr. Strange though.

However, it's not an illegal product.  It's "quasi-legal" to import, and there needs to be a distinction here.

It's illegal to produce or import for sale and consumption in the US. Period. There's no such thing as "quasi-legal." It's simply over-looked... mostly. Most of us here know someone who's had a shipment seized.

 

I think the distinction you're trying to draw is whether it's a "crime" to import absinthe. The answer is an unequivocal "yes," unless of course you've paid US taxes/duty on it, as posessing untaxed booze is illegal in this country. It's not a crime to import absinthe itself, that's just importing "prohibited merchandise," the penalty of which goes no further than seizure. Possession of untaxed liquor is another set of laws entirely, which, if invoked, could result in prison time and huge fines. Then there are the individual state's laws. And the USPS prohibition on sending flammable liquids through the mail. Hell, if they wanted, they could throw conspiracy at you too.

 

However, as has been mentioned numerous times, it's simply not much of a priority for the gov because the revenue-loss:investigational-cost ratio probably isn't worth it.

 

As Ari pointed out, the FDA is required to demonstrate that a product is harmful when used as intended, if it wishes to enforce a ban, not the other way around. As soon as someone with the money, science and most importantly the cajones steps up to confront them, the ban will come tumbling down—after a long, drawn out legal battle. Presuming they have good science of course. I think EU-US harmonization will make this unnecessary.

That article was a drop in the bucket to what this forum, Fee Verte, and others have already done, for years, to a potential audience vaster than that which Wired will ever reach.
Amen and amen.
I don't know if it's a good thing to bring more attention in the U.S. to absinthe, especially in that sort of venue.  Only time will tell.

Spreading knowledge is almost always a double edged sword. I've come to fear the doorbell. (shades of F 451°)

I have zero influence with Hiram...

Don't underestimate yourself! This one time? I had this dream? And you were... oh, but this is nether the time nor the place. ;)

I fully agree about putting to rest the idea of absinthe being legalized to import to the United States.

Oh ye of little faith. You talk like it's heroin or something. Know ye not that even at this moment there is an active effort in D.C. to harmonize US-EU food and drug standards? Having been recently legalized in France, Holland and Switzerland—with the rest of the EU already on board, the impetus is on absinthe's side.

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