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Maryland Bans Grain Alcohol

On July 1, a series of new laws limiting some alcohol sales and expanding others took effect across the state.

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By Bryan Le

07/02/14

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The state of Maryland has passed laws banning 190-proof grain alcohol, or about 95% alcohol or higher, starting this past Tuesday, July 1. Among the new law's strongest supporters are college leaders, who fear grain alcohols are a fast and cheap way for students to get dangerously drunk.

"This is a product that college presidents identified as a substantial problem on their campuses," said David Jernigan, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "It packs a wallop that is easily disguised."

Maryland is not the first to pass such a ban; more than 12 other states, including Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, have also disallowed the sale of grain alcohol.

Also taking effect this week was a previously passed law banning so-called vaportinis, a heated "drink" that is inhaled through a glass straw, allowing absorption of alcohol directly through the lungs into the bloodstream. Anyone caught with a vaportini device will be charged with a misdemeanor.

Despite new restrictions on alcohol, the state has loosened a few laws as well. The hair salons of Maryland's Montgomery County, for example, are now allowed to serve a glass of wine or champagne to their customers, while microbreweries no longer have to be fully-licensed restaurants to sell their craft beers.

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