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Drinking age in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is one of 50 states in the union that all have a minimum drinking age of just 21. However, it’s not fair or normal to a lot of people. Let’s explore that. Before 1983, all states could set their own drinking ages. It wasn’t until the National Minimum Drinking Age Act in 1983 that all the states had to abide by what the federal government wanted to be the national minimum drinking age. It was changed to 21 in all of the 50 states. Some people considered that a really bad law though, because it was different than the age of majority in the country. 18 is the age when people can vote, go to war, buy cigarettes, and consent to sex. To have a higher drinking age just seemed wrong. It’s also wrong, or at least unequal, for several other reasons.

First of all, all European countries have a drinking age of 18. Some countries, like Belgium, even have lower drinking ages, like of 16, but just for the consumption and purchase of beer and wine, or to have it with a meal, or something like that. It seems kind of odd to bar all sales of all types of alcohol because of a draconian principle on barring all kinds of alcohol, just for the sake of it. For example, many countries around the world treat their minors more liberally and let them drink at younger ages.

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Now, all states have different stipulations that allow for underage drinking in certain circumstances. Massachusetts is no different. There are many extenuating circumstances, and lots of special occasions, where underage drinking may be permitted. In other words, the states have some leeway in making exceptions to the rule. Not all states have to abide by the 21-year-old age limit in all circumstances. There are definitely special exceptions. For example, some states have stipulations that let underage minors drink for religious, medical, and educational purposes. There are always special exceptions, although there are a few states with no exceptions.

Before Prohibition in 1919, there was no known drinking age in the state. After Prohibition was repealed, the drinking age changed to 21. It was lowered to 18 with the passage of the 26th Amendment for beer and wine in 1974. It was to 21 for all in 1982.

In Maryland, it’s legal for minors to drink alcohol on non alcohol-selling premises as long as they have parental consent. It’s also legal to drink for religious purposes. Underage alcohol possession is also allowed if the person who gives the alcohol to the minor is a member of the minor’s immediate family. It’s not unusual to have that stipulation in different states, and there are several minors in the various states that regularly take advantage of that exception. For example, there may be special occasions like birthday parties or Christmas parties. Or, perhaps, there might be drinking alcohol or wine at dinner as a part of the normal family meeting time at night.




1 Comment

  1. Fitty Stim says:

    The point about “consent to have sex” at age 18 is incorrect. There is no national age of consent. Each state sets its own limit. Massachusetts has a consent age of 16 (like most US states).


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