Alcoholic Beverage Control Board

History of Alcohol Control in Alaska

1741 - 1867

  • Russians use alcohol as trade goods for furs.
  • Russians also routinely provide excessive amounts of rum to native leaders during trade and treaty negotiations.
  • Some Tribes make "hootchenoo"

1867 - 1877

  • The Territory is under the jurisdiction of the War Department
  • Shipments of "spirituous liquors or wines" into Alaska are prohibited.
  • The law was generally ignored by the Army when dealing with "whites."
  • 1869 - The Army openly sold confiscated liquor in Sitka.
  • 1877 - 4,889 gallons of molasses were landed at Sitka.
  • In a report to the Secretary of the Interior Governor Knapp stated that the period of War Department rule "brought nothing but rum and ruin."

1877 - 1884

  • President gives the Treasury Department regulatory authority over the Territory of Alaska.
  • The Treasury Department allows the importation and manufacture of beer and wine but prohibits distilled spirits.
  • Many stills in the territory continue to make "hootchenoo" and the supply of liquor is limited only by "means of the purchaser"

1884 - 1892

  • Civil Government is created in Alaska.
  • Alcohol is prohibited except for medicinal, mechanical and scientific purposes.
  • In 1887 the law is amended to allow the importation of liquor for "sacramental purposes"
  • The "civil government" does little to enforce these laws. Breweries in Sitka and Juneau operate open saloons.
  • Druggists sell liquor as prescription or non-prescription.
  • Generally alcohol is readily available to "whites" during this period.

1892 - 1899

  • U.S. Collector of Customs becomes responsible for the landing of liquor.
  • Once it is landed the Territorial Governor issues permits for sale.
  • In 1894 the Internal Revenue Service begins issuing tax stamps to liquor dealers.
  • Confusion reigns. Persons charged with sale without a permit issued by the governor have their cases dismissed because they bought an IRS tax stamp.
  • In 1899, America's first liquor license is created. Territorial Governor Brady establishes a system of "high license."- $1000 license on all liquor dealers - sale of alcohol without the new license becomes a violation of the new criminal code.

1899 - 1918

  • Licensed liquor sales are legal in Alaska.
  • The number of saloons decrease by about 80 percent.
  • 50 to 80 percent of local revenue stem from liquor licenses.
  • The license fees are used to build court houses, jails and schools.

1918 - 1933

  • 1918, two years before the nation enacts prohibition, the citizens of Alaska enact the "Bone Dry" law by a vote of nearly two to one.
  • 1920, the Eighteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution becomes law. Congress passes the Volstead act. The nation goes dry.
  • In Alaska prohibition is enforced under the territorial "Bone Dry" law rather than under the Volstead Act. The net result is the same. The use, sale and manufacture of alcoholic beverages is widespread.
  • Bootleggers set up stills.
  • A series of underground tunnels are constructed under Anchorage's business district so that bootleggers can make their deliveries and speakeasies could operate without being observed by the Territorial Police.

1933 - 1959

  • The 21st amendment repeals prohibition.
  • The Board of Liquor Control is created by the Territorial Legislature. The Board consists of the Territorial Governor, the Territorial Treasurer, the Attorney General, the Territorial Auditor and the Highway Engineer.
  • The first alcoholic beverage regulations are adopted in 1934 subject to approval of the U.S. Congress.

1959 - Present

  • The First Alaska State Legislature creates a three member Alcoholic Beverage Control Board appointed by the Governor.
  • The alcoholic beverage laws that are adopted are based on the Territorial liquor laws.
  • 1970 - the Board is increased to five members.
  • By 1978 there has been so many amendments to the alcoholic beverage laws that they are contradictory and in many cases unenforceable. Even the Board's staff often doesn't understand them.
  • 1979 the Alaska Legislature adopts a comprehensive revision of the alcoholic beverage laws. Provisions allowing communities to prohibit sale or sale and importation of alcoholic beverages are included.
  • 1986 the law is amended to allow communities to prohibit possession by local option election.
  • 1995 Barrow is the largest city in Alaska to ban possession of Alcoholic beverages.