ANNAPOLIS — A Maryland bill that would crack down on grain alcohol divided state senators from Frederick County on Wednesday.

Sen. Ron Young, who supported the legislation to ban selling 190-proof alcohol, said the change could help curb binge drinking and take a date-rape substance off the market. Voting against the bill, Sen. David Brinkley said it doesn't go far enough to make a significant difference.

"If someone wants to get around this, they easily can get around it," said Brinkley, R-District 4.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Richard Madaleno Jr., D-Montgomery, would make selling alcohol of 190 proof or higher a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine. The proposal passed the Senate on Wednesday on a 37- to-10 vote and is now headed to the House of Delegates.

Young said state colleges and universities supported the legislation as a way to combat excessive drinking among students. Grain alcohol allows people to get drunk quickly and cheaply and can also be used in date rape because it can be unnoticeable when mixed with other drinks, Young said.

"If you put it in watermelon or lemonade, you might not even know it's there," said Young, D-District 3.

A health worker at Hood College indicated she wouldn't say grain alcohol is a problem at the school. However, she said such potent spirits do come with heightened risks.

"When you have more concentration in smaller volume, there's potential for harm, especially with inexperienced drinkers," said Teresa Cevallos, director of the health center at Hood College. 

There were 1,000 alcohol-related deaths in Maryland from 2007 through 2012, according to a report from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Thirty-eight of those deaths were in Frederick County.

Brinkley said he would've supported Madaleno's bill had it set the cap lower, banning sales of alcohol above 151 proof. However, he said people will find a way to get drunk despite prohibitions.

"There's a problem with beer binge drinking, wine binge drinking and hard liquor binge drinking," he said. "So ... you're back to the education of people in how to drink responsibly."

Neighboring states such as Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia already ban grain alcohol sales, according to a legislative analysis.

Neither Young nor Brinkley thought Madaleno's proposal would set back the state's businesses, since would-be buyers of grain alcohol would simply settle for a less potent drink. For the same reason, legislative analysts reported that the bill probably wouldn't reduce state alcohol tax revenue by a significant amount.

Follow Bethany Rodgers on Twitter: @BethRodgersFNP.

(12) comments

Comment deleted.

Valid point there - spend more on weaker alcohol & rack in more tax revenue to line their pockets.


"Ron Young" ... stopped reading after that second sentence. That clown needs to be voted OUT!

Another wanna be Bloomberg apparently

Comment deleted.



Another useless set of laws from Democrats. If the 190 proof isn't there what do you think will happen? They will either drive to out of state and spend the money there or they will just choose the next cheapest thing, which is a 7 dollar 5th of vodka. You think banning something makes people not have or use something.


Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania already ban the sale of the product according to the article in this mornings WP....but you already knew that because of your exhaustive research before posting your comments....didn't you?


Yeah, and passing the law is not going to stop kids from using pills that they do for date rape. Ron is getting senile. Grain alchohol will burn the crap out of your throat unless diluted, which then makes it only slightly more potent than vodka or rum. More 'feel good" laws that will not accomplish a thing..


They can still get 150 proof over state lines if Maryland bans that. 190 proof is still being sold in Virginia.


Young and Brinkley need some free press, I guess...


i dont care what you mix it with, you ARE going to taste and feel it going down. the first time i tried it, i thought i was having a heart attack. it burnt all the way down. i dont think Ron has ever tried it, or he has one heck of a tolerance.


try a shot of barcardi 151 with wild turkey 101 on top. I will never forget the whole staff of Studebaker's taking a time out to watch. Grain..yeah, right....if you want to ban grain for a legitimate reason, fine, like a flammable substance, date rape? Bogus rationale.


Why did I waste my vote on Ron Young.Never again. silly as usual dumb law.


We are talking about kids giving themselves beer enemas to get drunk faster. Banning grain is not going to stop that. It is a mentality. And stop with the bs smoke. You are going to know something is laced with grain pretty fast, unless it is so diluted, it wont matter. Heck, I remember pouring fifths of it onto huge coolers and mixing in lemonade. And no one drank it. Once the keg was done, they headed to the bar. Yeah, freshmen 18 years old. All they will do is drink twice as much vodka.

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