Federal Alcohol Labeling Rules Don't Go Down Easy

'Thought crime' agency a headache for sellers
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2008 2:05 AM CDT
Bottles of Mt. Shasta Brewing Co. beer, with the slogan "Try Legal Weed" on the caps are seen in a market in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, April 23, 2008.    (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
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(Newser) – Energy drink makers can give their products names like Cocaine and Speed Freak, and it's fine for a perfume to be called Opium. But when a California microbrewer from the tiny town of Weed submitted an application for a new beer to the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, he was told that his company’s slogan—“Try legal Weed”—had to go, Reason reports.

It’s just one example of how the agency's rules make life difficult for alcohol sellers. The bureau reviews some 100,000 liquor labels annually, but polices the packaging instead of the product. Said one stunned entrepreneur, who ran into hurdles when trying to win approval for a label on his legal version of absinthe: “They weren’t protecting anyone from absinthe. They were protecting people from how the absinthe had been presented.”