MD Senate Passes Ban of 190-Proof Alcohol In Effort To Curb Student Drinking Problems
MARYLAND - It's the infamous drink commonly used in jungle juice at college frat parties. But party-goers in Maryland could soon say goodbye to drinks like Everclear, Gem Clear and Golden Grain.
The state Senate approved a measure Wednesday, to take alcoholic beverages with 190 proof or higher, off store shelves. It's an attempt to curb the student drinking problem.
"Students will always find ways to get alcohol," junior at Salisbury University Charles Morrison said.
"Absolutely not –people are just going to find other stuff to do it," junior Antoinette Jablonski said.
"They may just drink more alcohol than the proof that's high," freshman Kaity Cook said.
"Alcohol is alcohol. Sometimes it's strong and sometimes it's not," senior Jason Rogewitz said.
While students don't think it's a solution, Maryland health advocates are convinced it will reduce the level of risk that kids are facing.
"If young people are trying to do any kind of harm-reduction strategy --count drinks or something like that, they'll fail. They don't know what's in the product that they're drinking," associate professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health David Jernigan said.
A proof of 190 translates to 95 percent alcohol content – more than most rubbing alcohol. Jernigan says these drinks are more than twice the strength of your typical vodka, and because it's odorless and tasteless, when you mix it with juice, it makes it difficult to know your limit.
Some sexual assault advocates consider it a date-rape drug.
"I've definitely heard awful stories," Cook said.
"I've heard of incidents where people have gotten more drunk than they wanted to be, because there's more Everclear than they knew," Morrison said.
High-proof beverages are also apparently one of the cheapest forms of alcohol available to students. Jernigan says he purchased a 1.75L bottle of grain alcohol and calculated the price per drink to about 38 cents.
Ryan Miller, owner of Last Call Liquors in Salisbury says he's not worried about losing business – he's more concerned about safety.
"If there's something a little less proof and they can drink something that tastes even better, but is even safer for them, I'm all for that," he said.
Sixteen states including Virginia have already banned 190-proof products.
The bill in Maryland now moves to the house for a hearing. If it passes, stores that carry these products face misdemeanor charges and could be fined up to $1,000.
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