[Alaska] Booze sales endanger Kotzebue and surrounding villages

Jared MIller
Apr 4, 2010
Alaska Dispatch

Our small rural town, located 26 miles inside the Arctic Circle in Northwest Alaska, is in for some big changes this summer. Last fall in the local municipal elections, Kotzebue voters legalized the local sale and distribution of alcohol. Kotzebue is now officially and legally “wet.” This change comes after more than 20 years of Kotzebue’s “damp” status, which banned the local sale but not the importation of alcohol. Before last fall’s vote, Kotzebue had not been wet since 1987.

Some townspeople thought that establishing a liquor distribution center and city-owned liquor store, scheduled to open in June, would decrease a currently thriving local bootlegging industry as well as alcohol abuse in local households.

Last fall’s alcohol vote was controversial. Some say that legal alcohol sales will increase alcohol abuse, including among underage drinkers, and also in the villages surrounding Kotzebue. Others believe it is a good idea to create a local tax revenue stream from local alcohol sales, but those selling booze locally also might expect to make some handsome personal profits. I believe Kotzebue should stop importing alcohol completely. I have witnessed first-hand the effects of alcohol abuse on people. Alcohol wastes money while it tears families apart with its abuse. [more]