It’s possible that your friendly neighborhood postal carrier will soon be dropping off bottles of booze on your doorstep. A bill has been introduced into the US Senate that would allow the Postal Service to ship alcohol, something which it has been banned from doing since 1909.
In the last ten years, online wine sales has turned into a billion dollar industry, annually. Online retails such as Bacchus Selections are redefining how people purchase wine. All those bottle have to be shipped, and that has turned into a very lucrative business for both FedEx and UPS. Now, this is a market the USPS also wants to get into, according to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. Not surprising, since it offers a way for the near-bankrupt Postal Service to once again become profitable.
The Post Office used to ship alcohol, and many mail-order liquor companies existed in the 19th Century. However, as the temperence movement started to grow, so did it’s ability to influence politicians. One if the movement’s first national successes was banning the shipment of booze. The law in question, Section 217 of 18 U.S.C. 1716(f) of the Act of March 4, 1909, ch. 321, 35 Stat. 1131, was indented to prevent poisons, explosives, and other harmful items from being mailed. However, language was inserted into the bill that also banned “spirituous, vinous, malted, fermented or other intoxicating liquors” from being shipped by the USPS.
In the end, let’s hope this bill passes. It will likely drop the price of shipping wine, beer, and spirits. And fund Mr. Postman’s retirement package, too.