Decision cements 2018 law that makes it illegal for bad actors to ship wine to Michigan consumers
LANSING — The Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association (MB&WWA) today applauded a U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision to uphold a 2018 law that makes it illegal for out-of-state retailers to ship wine to consumers in Michigan.
“We applaud the U.S. Supreme Court for upholding the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the case of Lebamoff v. Michigan and for seeing through the baseless claims and misinformation peddled by plaintiffs in the case and the National Association of Wine Retailers,” said Spencer Nevins, president of the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association. “By affirming the 6th Circuit, the Supreme Court has recognized state rights under the 21st Amendment and the need for alcoholic beverages to pass through in-state businesses to ensure public health and safety, and tax compliance. This decision also benefits in-state retailers, large or small, that are committed to and support their local communities.”
Wine illegally shipped into Michigan has been a steadily increasing problem. Two years ago, the MB&WWA began compiling quarterly reports using information from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and excise tax data from the State of Michigan to quantify how much alcohol is shipped into the state, both legally and illegally.
During two quarters of 2018, more than 1 million bottles of alcohol were shipped into Michigan in just six months and at least 300,000 of those bottles were shipped illegally by out-of-state retailers. During the first three quarters of 2019, more than 1.5 million bottles of alcohol were shipped into Michigan. It’s estimated 484,101 bottles of wine were illegally shipped into the state during the same period.
In September, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced federal lawsuits against two California companies that were repeatedly shipping wine and beer illegally into the state. The lawsuits were filed in the Eastern District of Michigan against Go to Gifts Inc. and Vintner’s Collective LLC. According to the attorney general, both companies were sent cease and desist letters but continued to ship wine and beer into Michigan illegally. Neither company is licensed to ship alcohol to consumers in Michigan.
“With the Lebamoff case now in the rearview mirror and Michigan’s wine shipping laws upheld, our state can continue going after the bad actors who are snubbing their nose at state law and robbing Michigan of much-needed tax revenue at a time when it needs it most,” Nevins said. “We encourage Attorney General Nessel, and attorney generals from all states, to continue targeting these bad actors, wherever they are, and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”
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