Initiative 1183 and Higher Education: Liquor Privatization and its Effects on Washington State University
In November 2011, Washington state voters passed Ballot Measure Initiative No. 1183, effectively ending the state’s 78-year-old monopoly on liquor sales. Taking effect in June of 2012, privatization permitted the sale of hard liquor in over 1,600 stores and specialty shops, closing the roughly 350 state-owned or state-contracted locations. Initiative 1183 provided consumers the ability to purchase hard alcohol in grocery stores with virtually no time constraints on when it could be purchased. Although convenient, the addition of fees at the distribution and retail levels contributed to a substantial increase in the total cost to purchase, as opposed to the assumption of a price decrease commonly associated with the transition from a monopoly provider to a competitive market. While existing scholarly literature on general alcohol consumption and underage drinking is abundant, there are few cases linking college student consumption in privatized states to that of public monopolies. No studies were found on states transitioning from a public monopoly to a privatized system and its effects on infractions committed while under the influence. This study determines whether alcohol privatization affected the number of alcohol related citations, violations, and/or arrests by students at the Pullman campus of Washington State University, a college town situated in a state where price increased and the close proximity of low-priced alternatives exists in the adjacent state still under a public monopoly.