Something to settle the stomach

Published 10:17 am Tuesday, October 31, 2017

By Chuck Witt

A few weeks ago, an individual went into one of the local chain drugstores on a Sunday to purchase a few household necessities. He also wanted to pick up a bottle of wine as a small gift to an acquaintance.

Selecting a bottle, he headed for the checkout only to be stopped by one of the store employees, who informed him the store could not sell him wine on a Sunday.

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The employee was very nice and cordial and the gentleman readily surrendered the bottle without rancor or complaint.

And, later, the gentleman began thinking about what had transpired, and began doing some research on the subject of Sunday liquor sales.

He discovered since 2002, some 16 states have passed laws to allow Sunday liquor sales. Among those states is Kentucky.

So why, he wondered, could he not purchase a bottle of wine that day from the drug store.

Well, it seems the Kentucky law only allows for a local option, meaning that local government has the authority to decide if such sale of spirits can take place in the city or county. And apparently, neither the city of Winchester nor the county of Clark has opted to permit this practice.

Presently, there are 38 states which do not restrict the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sundays. At least, this time, Kentucky is not in the minority, but has only transferred responsibility to its local governments.

Across Kentucky, according to the Kentucky Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control in 2017, there are 47 counties which are considered “dry.” Of course, they aren’t “dry” because residents there routinely cross county lines to buy alcohol to take home, and there may still be some bootlegging going on in a few select locations in those counties.

In numerous “dry” locations across Kentucky, local jurisdictions have voted to go “wet” and allow alcohol sales under limited conditions. So, in those places, a person wouldn’t even have to leave the county to purchase liquor.

In 1985 a Kentucky Supreme Court justice stated that the state’s alcohol laws were a “maze of obscure statutory language” and “confusing at best.” In 2012, the general counsel for the KOABC commented that it was still true.

Here in Kentucky, one cannot buy liquor during the hours when polls are open — typically 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. — during primary and general elections.

And one cannot buy wine inside a supermarket, but can do so in a drug store, a provision apparently left over from the days of Prohibition.

It seems pretty obvious that the Sunday sales restrictions are religious-based, which seems a bit odd since Psalms 104 says that God provided “wine that maketh glad the heart of man” and I Timothy tells adherents to “be no longer a drinker of water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake…”

And so, after much research, the gentleman considered himself not much more the wiser, instead wondering what harm could possibly have come from purchasing one bottle of wine which he was not even going to consume himself, especially since there are so few restrictions on purchasing anything else on a Sunday.

He may not have been able to purchase something for his stomach’s sake, but it was surely time to find something to take for a splitting headache.

Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester. He can be reached at