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Proposed Law Would Let Teens Drink Alcohol, But There's a Catch

A proposed law making its way through Sacramento would allow some college students who are 18 or older to have alcohol.

But this isn't an attempt to lower California's 21-and-older drinking age.

AB 1989 by state Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro would allow students studying winemaking and brewing to have a taste. As it stands, college programs in those fields, which are a big deal in this wine- and beer-producing state, ...

... make students wait until they're 21 to participate in wine or beer tasting.

The bill was passed by the Assembly last month and is working its way through the Senate now, Chesbro's office tells us. It's scheduled to face the Senate Governmental Organization Committee June 24.

According to its language, " ... this bill would allow a qualified student to taste an alcoholic beverage and exempt the student and the qualified academic institution" from laws that make it a misdemeanor for the under-21 set to be served or drink alcohol.

The University of California is a main backer of the law. In fact, Chesbro's office referred press calls to UC Davis wine guru Andrew L. Waterhouse.

According to a UC statement, the bill ... 

 ... only allows for tasting, not consuming; and only applies to tasting that occurs in a course required for an associate or bachelor degree and in the control of an authorized instructor who is at least 21 years of age. The bill is not intended to include students from other majors taking electives in
these educational programs. 

Twelve other states, including Washington and New York, have this under-21 exception for wine and beer programs.

It doesn't look like there's a lot of room for abuse here, but we're sure some students will try.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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