ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a measure on Monday banning the sale of alcohol that is 190-proof and stronger.
The new law had strong backing from leaders of colleges and universities.
"Grain alcohol is seen as a cheap and reliable way to get drunk quickly, sometimes without the person knowing it," said Jonathan Gibralter, president of Frostburg State University, who attended a bill signing ceremony and noted that the inexpensive cost equates to about 35 cents a drink. "Not surprisingly, its potency and low price make grain alcohol a popular option for college students."
U.S. Naval Academy Commandant Bill Byrne also attended to show his support. The academy is part of the Maryland Collaborative to Reduce College Drinking and Related Problems. The group formed last year to address problems with excessive drinking among college students.
"We're trying to create the environment where our midshipmen and other college students can make smart decisions, and this is one further step headed toward that direction," Byrne said.
The new law, which takes effect July 1, prohibits a person from selling at retail an alcoholic beverage with an alcohol content of 95 percent or more. Violations will be punishable as a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $1,000.
More than a dozen states have passed similar laws. Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania already have banned 190-proof products.