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As the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the craft distiller industry, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order allowing California distillers to ship directly to consumers.

Now, a proposed law would make that permanent. It would also apply to out-of-state craft breweries in the state, meaning you’ll be able to order your favorite 4-pack and have it mailed to your house.

For decades now, California wineries have been able to ship directly to consumers’ doors. The bill would give that same opportunity to craft distillers and brewers, according to the bill’s author, Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica.

Senate Bill 620 “basically creates parity” with the wine industry, Allen said.

Allen said that Newsom’s executive order has shown that “the sky doesn’t fall” when distillers are allowed to ship directly to consumers. He said his bill is intended to help an industry still struggling in the wake of a pandemic-induced economic hardship.

The bill is welcomed by the industry.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, an industry trade group, supports it.

“Permanently allowing direct-to-consumer shipping in California will create a more convenient marketplace for adult consumers and provide much-needed support to craft distillers facing financial hardship from the closure of tasting rooms and tours due to COVID-19,” Vice President Adam Smith said in a statement.

Allen said that the bill will allow Californians who come across a beer or spirit that they really like, but which is unavailable where they live, to order it directly to their homes.

“This is about freedom of choice and giving consumers a reasonable option to access a product if they like,” Allen said.

The bill also is supported by the California Craft Brewers Association. Executive Director Lori Ajax explained that while in-state breweries were able to ship directly to consumers, that same privilege is not extended to out-of-state breweries, potentially putting California in conflict with the federal Commerce Clause.

Allen’s bill allows out-of-state breweries, with a permit, to ship to customers the same as in-state breweries, keeping California out of legal conflict with the feds, Ajax said.

“I think more than ever we want to make sure we’re protecting that privilege,” she said.

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for the Sacramento Bee. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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