Reason Foundation

Reason Foundation

Wet at Last

Dallas legalizes alcohol.

Jacob Sullum
February 1, 2011

Californians did not legalize marijuana in November, but Dallasites did finally manage to legalize alcohol. By a margin of nearly 2 to 1, voters approved a ballot initiative that allows grocery and convenience stores throughout the city to sell beer and wine.

As a result of precinct-level votes, Dallas was a patchwork of dry and wet zones for nearly a century. You could buy alcoholic beverages at, say, the Whole Foods on North Central Expressway but not at the Whole Foods on Preston Road. Rules for restaurants also varied by location: In some neighborhoods, you could order a cocktail only after joining a “private club.” A companion measure that also passed by a large margin in November abolishes that requirement.

Writing in the Advocate, a local magazine, Jeff Siegel and Rachel Stone said the vote on these two propositions—which, among other things, reflects a demographic shift from Baptists and Methodists toward more drink-tolerant religious groups such as Catholics, Jews, and nondenominational Protestants—was “the biggest wet-dry election in U.S. history since the end of Prohibition.” They called it “a landmark moment,” since quirky alcohol rules were “as much a part of Dallas as 100-degree days.” And about as welcome.

Jacob Sullum is Senior Editor

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