Guest Column – Commemorating the 80th Anniversary of the 21st Amendment


By: Brannon P. Denning, Center for Alcohol Policy Advisory Council member and professor at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law


Each year the Center for Alcohol Policy sponsors an essay contest to foster debate, analysis, and examination of state alcohol regulation and its implications for citizens across the United States. The topic for this year’s contest is: “This year marks the 80th anniversary of the 21st Amendment. Has it achieved its intended purpose?”


On December 5, 1933, national Prohibition ended in the United States when 36 states (the requisite three-fourths majority of the then 48 states) ratified the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution, thereby repealing the 18th Amendment which began Prohibition in 1920.   Just as important as section one’s repeal of the 18th Amendment was section two, which gave each state the primary authority to enact and enforce alcohol laws.


The history of our nation’s abuses with alcohol leading up to Prohibition is critical to understanding the state-based alcohol regulatory system put in place following Prohibition’s repeal and the ratification of the 21st Amendment. As part of its educational mission, the Center produced a video explaining the origin of America’s state-based alcohol regulatory system.

The video highlights the Center’s republication of the book Toward Liquor Control, which outlined how states could safely sell and serve alcohol following the repeal of Prohibition, and describes how the book is still helping shape policy today.


As the 80th anniversary of the 21st Amendment approaches, students, academics, practicing attorneys, policymakers and members of the general public are encouraged to explore the impact of this amendment and participate in a national dialogue by entering the Center’s Sixth Annual Essay Contest. The contest is open to all persons who are over the age of 18 as of December 2013, and cash prizes of $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000 will be awarded to the first, second and third place winners, respectively.


The deadline to submit entries is December 5, 2013. To read entry rules, essay guidelines and last year’s winning essays, please visit



Leave a Reply