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To save the post office, send beer?

One provision of the latest effort to shore up the flagging U.S. Postal Service would allow you to receive alcohol in the mail.

By Giselle Smith Apr 30, 2012 4:55PM

Image: Beer (© Corbis)In addition to opening the door to ending Saturday mail delivery in two years, the latest proposal to save the post office includes a provision that would let the U.S. Postal Service begin shipping alcohol across the country.


The ban on shipping beer and wine via the U.S. mail dates back to 1909, 10 years before Prohibition.


The law grew from statutes that prohibited the Postal Service from shipping "poisons, explosives, harmful items, and 'all spirituous, vinous, malted, fermented, or other intoxicating liquors of any kind,'" Josh Sanburn wrote at Time, citing Section 217 of 18 U.S.C. 1716(f) of the Act of March 4, 1909, ch. 321, 35 Stat. 1131.


Private carriers have been shipping beer and wine for years, but the Postal Service hasn't been able to get in on that action thanks to the federal law. Note: Individuals are not legally allowed to ship alcohol to one another via either UPS or FedEx (so no sending one of your favorite wines to Mom for Mother's Day). Those who are licensed to ship wine can apply to either carrier to send it to individuals or businesses, but beer can be sent only between licensed companies, not to individuals -- and shipment of all alcohol is subject to state laws, which vary widely. (Post continues below video.)

Getting into the alcohol shipping business could prove lucrative for the post office, once it's able to establish procedures to ensure that alcohol is not shipped to anyone younger than 21 (requiring a signature for delivery, for example) or to any of the states that prohibit alcohol shipments from out-of-state retailers.


"With the onslaught of e-commerce, as long as (beer and wine) ship legally in terms of states that we're allowed to ship, I think you're going to see it take off," Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe told Time.


According to Time:

Donahoe says he doesn't believe that getting a federal agency like the post office involved in shipping alcohol across state lines is in any way disreputable. In fact, he already has some shipping ideas if it passes: 2-, 4- and 6-bottle wine boxes for one flat rate that would ship anywhere in the country.

The bill including the beer and wine provision passed the Senate last week.

The issue now moves to the House, which is considering its own bill, and Donahoe has given Congress a May 15 deadline before he says the U.S. Postal Service will pursue its own plan, which includes closing some postal service facilities and possibly hundreds of rural post offices.


More from MSN Money:

Apr 30, 2012 7:39PM
By all means, allow it. The USPS is iconic. Save it. And tell Congress to return the money it sucked out of it. Tax the corporations, and save our postal service. It is the connection we have that is not privatized for profit.
Apr 30, 2012 7:38PM
We that have looked into the problems that the USPS is having most are created by the congress and continue to break their bank, we need to get the congress completely out of the USPS's business.
Apr 30, 2012 7:35PM
If they would legalize mailing marijuana, they wouldn'y have a problem
Apr 30, 2012 7:33PM


Let the USPS compete.

No government bailouts to either the USPS or their union.


Let them set their own rates and don't give them any favorable treatment.

If a first class stamp rises to $1, then that's the going rate.  No whining about the elderly, the poor or rural folks and stepping in with a handout or price fixing.

Apr 30, 2012 7:31PM

Does that mean that FedEx and UPS will ship less alcohol, now FedEx and UPS will make less money. Let the private shipping companies contine shipping alcohol they are doing a great job.

The United States Post Office need to find a better solution to their budget problems, not take away profits from the private sector.

Apr 30, 2012 7:27PM

Stop Sat. delivery this will save millions of gallons of gas, plus it reduces wear and tear on vehicles by about 15% and reduces global warming. No one will miss Sat. deliveries. Alcohol deliveries must be delivered cold for beer and chilled for wine.

Apr 30, 2012 7:27PM
Hell why not you can get it anywhere !
Apr 30, 2012 7:27PM
"The USPS has contended that it has paid $6.9 billion more into its FERS pensions than is
required. It has asked for the funds to be returned to it. The USPS also has justified its recent
decision to suspend FERS contributions on the basis that it has overpaid and needs to conserve
The OPMIG has found merit in the USPS’s contention but noted that a statute would need to be
enacted to authorize the OPM the refund the money."

there's at least one source that'd bring more money back to them.

taken from:
Apr 30, 2012 7:26PM

girl5000 said:

"Govt is here to help us from the Expensive Corporate Basterds, IF i can 37 cents, why do I

want to Pay UPS Corporate Crappers MORE."


USPS is one of those "Basterd" Expensive Corporations you don't want, and they are part of the government you think is here to help.

Apr 30, 2012 7:23PM
I work at a high volume liquor store,don't care who brings it.They better have a two wheeler.More power to them if it saves jobs and that would be a lot of jobs
Apr 30, 2012 7:22PM
Easy solution, get rid of that stupid bill that was passed in 2006, that requires USPS to pay for pensions for the next 75yrs, problem solved!
Apr 30, 2012 7:22PM

I discovered this rule to my dismay when I had purchased "a loaf of bread, a book of verse, and WINE" for my sons and their wives on a special day.  Kinda messed up my whole plan, and I had no clue beforehand.


Apr 30, 2012 7:17PM

If the government has a problem running something like the current, privatized yet government controlled mail delivery system, do you really think they can efficiently administer something far more complicated such as healthcare? And considering those, are they even able to efficiently operate our own government?


For decades it's been high time for the USPS to act more like the business it should be than the buracracy it is. Either open up the ENTIRE mail system to independent delivery systems, or find a way for the USPS to compete on equal ground with other delivery services... and dropping the union would be a grand first step.

Apr 30, 2012 7:16PM
The problem with the post office is that they don't think.....I ship through them alot and sometimes I do not,mistakenly, put enough postage on but instead of letting the package go onto its destination  and charging my cc the extra 7 cents what do they do?  They use up time and manpower, & gas and end up with me being irritated and my customer getting ticked at me, especially if it was an express shipmet,   all for 7 cents..... but what I don't understand is when I overpay, which is alot, on postage they don't go through all that trouble to give me a refund. When I asked them about it they won't tell me why
Apr 30, 2012 7:14PM

Govt is here to help us from the Expensive Corporate Basterds,  IF i can 37 cents, why do I

want to Pay UPS Corporate Crappers MORE.

Apr 30, 2012 7:13PM
Booze thru the mail! A dream come true! Thank you GodOpen-mouthed
Apr 30, 2012 7:10PM

Post office is not ran by taxes from the  people. USPS Sarcastic pay their own bills!! look it up.

Apr 30, 2012 7:09PM

Like there would be enough people to ship booze to cover the billions of dollars the Post Office losses each year. What a stupid stupid story!



WOW, I'd never have to leave the house again. I likE IT!

Apr 30, 2012 7:04PM
Anything that lets the USPS have a better chance at covering their costs is a good thing.
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