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HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Czech Republic Halts Liquor Sales

Methanol-laced, black-market booze has killed 19 people in the Eastern European country, leading to the open-ended ban.

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A Czech Republic vendor and his off-limits
liquor. Photo via

By McCarton Ackerman

09/17/12

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Much like how Woodstock-goers in the '60s were warned not to eat the brown acid, residents of the Czech Republic are being told not to drink the brown liquor, with a ban on hard liquor sales imposed throughout the country. The ruling came down following a wave of methanol poisonings that have killed 19 people within the last few months, with dozens of others currently hospitalized. Bars and other places that sell the hard stuff will only be able to stock beer and wine until further notice. The ban originally was limited to spirits with more than 30% alcohol by volume, but the full prohibition was instated after cops determined that an "absolute majority" of the poisonings came from spirits purchased in restaurants, bars and stores. It's estimated that roughly 20 percent of the liquor sold in traditional outlets in the Czech Republic is produced on the black market. And, while methanol is traditionally used for industrial purposes, it's also a large part of the booze black market, because it's cheap and impossible to distinguish from real drinking-quality alcohol (until it starts killing people, that is). Thousands of liters of the illegal intoxicant have been seized and 20 people have been arrested thus far for making it. Although there's no expiration date on the ban, it's estimated that it will take at least several weeks before liquor sales resume. In the meantime, in an international effort to quarantine the damage, Poland also has instated a month-long ban on selling Czech liquor inside the country.

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