Absinthe illegal?


Prohibition of absinthe still exists in the United States of America. The reason is the thujone content of absinthe; US brands such as absente (marketed as “absinthe redefined”) contain no thujone. Needless to say a Czech absinthe without thujone would be like a Ferrari without an engine: pretty to look at, but it won’t take you for a spin 🙂 The absinthe from the Czech Republic has some of the highest thujone levels on the market and all perfectly legal… in Europe.

This article below is another kind of defiant independent Czech spirit that never fails to amaze. Let’s go back to 1928, the age of the First Czech Republic, a time — like now — of frenetic energy and growth in the Bohemian lands….

No restriction on the sale of spirits, wines or beer exists in Czechoslovakia;* but at Prague one Michael Maresch, picturesque anti-prohibition zealot, publishes a magazine quaintly devoted to urging Czechoslovak citizens of the U. S. to foment anti-prohibitionist sentiment among their neighbors.

Because the renowned Pilsner beer industry of Czechoslovakia would profit hugely by a repeal of the U. S. Eighteenth Amendment, Zealot Maresch has long enjoyed complete toleration and some quiet encouragement by the shrewd burghers of Prague. Last week however public sentiment turned bitterly against him overnight, when he printed what was construed as an affront to the political idol of Czechoslovaks, famed Foreign Minister Eduard Benes. As everyone knows, Dr. Benes was the chief lieutenant of President Thomas Garrigue Masaryk in their heroic and successful struggle to create the Czechoslovak State during the World War.

Yet Zealot Maresch wrote of Idol Benes: “If our Foreign Minister were not an abstainer, the Czechoslovak ship of state might steer a better course.”

After so wanton a scurrility the arrest of Editor Maresch was inevitable: but he gave further provocation by declaring: “The efficiency of the police of Prague would be increased if each policeman took an occasional nip of spirits.”

Soon sober and efficient Prague police, who do not think that Dr. Benes should tipple, tope, booze, guzzle, swig or swizzle, laid heavy hands upon Michael Maresch and clapped him into a cell.

28th May 1928 Time Magazine (Zealot into Cell)

For up to date information about absinthe in modern-day USA, don’t forget our firebrand friends at the Wormwood Society:


20 responses to “Absinthe illegal?

  1. is absinthe illegal – is it ok to buy absinthe online?

  2. Blog, “Czech absinthe without thujone would be like a Ferrari without an engine:”
    Considering the thujone in czech absinthe doesn’t do much, I would call something different the engine.

    Tony, “is absinthe illegal – is it ok to buy absinthe online?”
    It’s prohibited based on customs and FDA regulations but not illegal like a scheduled substance.

  3. Blimey!
    Who wants to kiss that? (Not mentioning the lips!)

  4. 🙂 You wouldn’t want to “tipple, tope, booze, guzzle, swig or swizzle” or “lay heavy hands” on the lady (centre with hat)!

  5. “the thujone in czech absinthe doesn’t do much, I would call something different the engine”

    The gearstick?

    How do you know the thujone “doesn’t do much”? You are only guessing, Ari. When was the last time you kicked back with a proper glass of icey Bairnsfather? The thujone molecules might be in their purest form having not been subjected to the alembic. Keep an open mind, Ari….or better still.. convert.

  6. We have had an entire conversation where I provided evidence showing thujone in the amounts found in absinthe or wormwood bitters (‘czech absinth’) doesn’t have any effect. You provided no evidence that it does.
    Are you forgetting already?

    Purest form? All analysis shows the thujone that comes through an alembic is the same chemical as before it went in.

  7. B. - Formerly anonymous

    Dr., I’ve had many glasses of Bairnsfeather. Your comments on it’s effects are wildly exagerated.

  8. What comments on it’s effects?

    What is the actual legal status of absinthe in the United States? Alan published some material about an absinthe party being raided. Is it permited to import it for personal consumption?

  9. B. - Formerly anonymous

    You and all of the other readers of this blog can go back through and review your comments on the effects of thujone, and bairnsfather.

    I’m sure you can also do your own research regarding the legality/illegality of absinthe production and importation. The best source would be the wormwood society in their FAQ section. You seem to peruse the site enough as it is.

    You might even want to show some conviction in your arguments by posting there.

    Regarding the raids you mentioned, the people holding their parties were advertising alcohol that has not had a federal tax paid on it. U.S. regulations on the taxation of alcohol are VERY strict, which is one of the main reasons that distillation without a license is illegal.

    I’ve grown tired of awaiting responses to questions I’ve asked you about specific points you’ve made. It’s obvious that you are avoiding them. I’ve made it a point to try to answer every question you’ve posed to me up to this point. Those efforts have not been reciprocated.

    If you like, I can enumerate them all, and you can answer them one by one. However, I see no point in continuing a discussion with someone who won’t answer legitimate questions regarding their own remarks.

  10. B. - Formerly anonymous

    I wouldn’t take that as fact, as the laws are more vague than what that site makes it seem.

    Read this: http://www.wormwoodsociety.org/laws.html
    and this:

    It will give you more in depth information.

  11. Erowid isn’t always the best source of absinthe information, it includes some outdated/incorrect information with their more recent accurate stuff.

    It should also be noted that the party raided wasn’t for untaxed booze (although it’s possible their booze could be kept if they can prove it’s untaxed. They were cited for selling “poisonous alcohol” but nothing came of that in court, and selling alcohol without a license is illegal (why many private events charge for a ticket and have an open bar).

  12. Good grief! How was it left? I feel sorry for those guys

  13. Dear Absintheur!
    To answer your question, yes “wormwood” is translated to “niga-yomogi” in Japanese.
    It is classified as a poisonous plant as opposed to “yomogi” which can be eaten as tempura (our “soba shop” often serves it after our cricket games to go with the beer.
    Go to: http://kitola.hp.infoseek.co.jp/dokusou/nigayomo.html for the Japanese explanation.
    The pics are great!
    Here is the translation (bear in mind this is the “ooficial” Japanese version!):

    Wormwood in English. Legends say that they grew on the traces left by the serpents (worms) when banished from Eden. Formerly used to make absinthe, but because of effects caused by “absinthism” poison, was prohibited and classified as a drug because of dangerous consequences to overuse.

    Poisonous plant name: niga-yomogi, wormwood, arutemisia, absinthe
    Scientific name: Artemisia absinthium LINN
    Characteristics: Chrisanthemum family, mugwort subfamily, resistant to cold temperatures graminae

    Flowering: July~August
    Plants of same subfamily: Mugwort (Artemisia Vulgaris/eaten in tempura in Japan), Southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum), Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus/used a flavouring herb even in Japan)
    Poisonous parts: leaves, stems, essence
    Components: “Jon” (Thujone), “Abushinchin” (Absinthin), “Harushinogen”, “Santonin”, Anabushin”, “Kariofiren”, Abushitoouru” (Absinthol)
    Sicknes signs: diarrhea, nervous paralysis, drug-indicted inebriety, addiction

    In the second half of the 19th Century famous European artists were known to indulge in their beloved Absinthe, a prohibited and enormously popular alcoholic drink, helping them in many of their creations. For example it is said that Van Gogh found most of his inspiration under its influence.

    Asphodels’ bulbs are used for infusion by “magicians” to brew the “Draught of Living Death” to induce their victims in comatose-like sleep.

    Last is the explanation of drinking:

    “Absinthe drinking woman”
    1) Pour 1.5 ounces of emerald green absinthe in an absinthe glass
    2) Put an absinthe spoon on top of the absinthe glass with a sugar cube in it
    3) Pour 5 ounces of chilled water onto the sugar cube
    4) Tilt the spoon to drop its contents inside the glass. Bring to your mouth the absinthe which is turning white
    5) well…, men are all stupid creatures!

    I hope I did not bore you!
    If you need more explanations/translations about the pictures, I shall be glad to oblige!

    Mod: I am republishing Robert-Gille’s post which was taken by Askimet in error

  14. Apologies to Robert-Gilles! Your post of Apr 2nd 2007 at 1:19 am was trapped by the Askimet spam dragon! Thank you so much for your reply.

    “Draught of Living Death”: not sure that I understand that reference.

  15. The message was claasified as spam probably because of the link included!
    As for “Draught” it means “Drink”!
    “Draught of Living Death” is the litteral translation!

  16. Thanks! “Draught of Living Death” is mentioned in Harry Potter 😕 is there a more learned source for this term, is it Japanese?

  17. B. - Formerly anonymous

    “Asphodels’ bulbs are used for infusion by “magicians” to brew the “Draught of Living Death” to induce their victims in comatose-like sleep.”

    The Asphodel (genus Asphodeline) and wormwood (genus Artemisia) are completely different.

    Also, after reviewing the website, it does not talk about dosage requirements to see any of the signs of poisoning. As mentioned before, the dose needed to be given in order to cause any deliterious effects are far beyond any amount you would be able to find in even the strongest wormwood bitters. You would die of alcohol poisoning well before feeling any of those effects.

  18. Sounds like something from a 30s horror movie 😮 does it have a narcotic effect??

  19. B. - Formerly anonymous

    Does what have a narcotic effect?

    Asphodel: I don’t know.

    Wormwood and Thujone: only at very extreme levels. But again, you would not be able to ingest enough thujone by drinking absinthe to get to that level.

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