Voters in Amherst, Granby, Pelham to consider allowing 19-year-olds to buy beer, wine
AMHERST — In the legislative district that will soon be represented by 22-year-old Solomon Goldstein-Rose, voters Tuesday are being asked whether they support legislation that would allow 19-year-olds to buy beer and wine.
It’s a nonbinding ballot question only in the 3rd Hampshire District and is the only public policy question on any ballot in the state. The district comprises Amherst, Pelham and part of Granby.
The question was initiated by Matthew Malone, a 48-year-old federal government actuary from Washington, D.C., who has never lived in the district.
In an email, he explained the initiative.
“I don’t consider myself to be an interloper because the only signatures that were certified (to get the measure on the ballot) where those of registered voters in Amherst and Pelham,” he said.
Malone was born in Haverhill and decided to test the proposal in Massachusetts because he still cares about the state and only needed 200 signatures to bring the question forward.
The 3rd Hampshire District made sense, he said, because it is the home of Senate President Stan Rosenberg and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Hampshire colleges.
“I did not want to try a municipal ballot question since the drinking age is set at the state level. I don’t have resources yet for a statewide ballot question,” he wrote.
Question 6 on ballots in the district reads, “Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that lowers the drinking age to 19 for wines and malt beverages and maintains the drinking age at 21 for all other alcoholic beverages?”
Goldstein-Rose, an Amherst Democrat running unopposed, said he cast his ballot early but did not vote on Question 6. “It’s weird to advise myself,” he said.
He thinks the question is curious, being proposed by a man who doesn’t live in the state. Although he doesn’t think the measure will pass, Goldstein-Rose said, “I’m a little intrigued. It’s not a crazy idea.”
Lowering the age might encourage younger people to drink only beer and wine rather than hard alcohol, and that could potentially reduce harm, Goldstein-Rose said. But he does not see the issue as a high priority for him or the Legislature any time soon.
Malone is a longtime member of the National Youth Rights Association and believes that the drinking age of 21 is age discrimination against legal adults.
“A person is legally an adult at age 18. At age 18 a person can legally enter into contracts, marry without their parents’ permission and serve in the United States military,” he wrote on 19todrink.org.
By email he said that he supports lowering the age for beer and wine because they are “not as intoxicating as hard liquor although you can still get drunk on it. Also I picture 19-year-olds drinking in restaurants but not bars,” he wrote.
“I’m a little intrigued. It’s not a crazy idea.”
— Solomon Goldstein-Rose
“Youth issues are important to me because I was once a youth and faced age discrimination as youth do today,” he said. “I think that some youth think that nothing can be done about this discrimination, but things can be done such as the public policy question in Massachusetts.”
What he does next will depend on the results.
“If the 2016 question outcome is favorable then I hope to put the same or somewhat similar question on the ballot in one or two other House districts in Massachusetts in 2018,” he wrote.
If that goes well, he will look for funding for a statewide ballot question in 2020.
If it loses badly, he will look at other “age-related issues such as the minimum age for car rental or renting a hotel room or the minimum age for online sports fantasy leagues such as DraftKings or to curfews.”
The Springfield Republican
November 4, 2016