Did you know that all but five states have exceptions to the minimum legal drinking age of 21? I've known for some time that in Wisconsin it is legal for a parent to take a minor into an establishment, order an alcoholic beverage for the minor and allow the minor to consume it. Wisconsin is known to be liberal in the area of drinking laws so that didn't surprise me. Finding out that the majority of other states had exceptions as well sure did though.
According to ProCon, a "nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity," only Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, New Hampshire and West Virginia have no exceptions to the law. With that being said they do allow that they are only talking about state laws and that there may be county and city ordinances in place that are more strict and do restrict underage drinking. Still I find it amazing that there are laws on state books that allow for underage alcohol consumption (not that I disagree with it).
There are eight different exceptions to allow underage consumption of alcohol:
1) On private, non alcohol-selling premises, with parental consent (29 states)
2) On private, non alcohol-selling premises, without parental consent (6 states)
3) For religious purposes (25 states)
4) For medical purposes (16 states)
5) For government work related purposes (4 states - including Oregon)
6) For educational purposes (11 states)
7) When reporting medical need due to underage drinking for another minor (17 states)
8) On alcohol-selling premises, with parental approval (10 states)
It was numbers five and six that at first made me say, "What?!?" Upon reading the examples it made a bit more sense. Apparently "government purposes" include working undercover with police and participating in government research and "educational purposes" refers to students in culinary school. I can only imagine that number four, "for medical purposes," are from long ago when you could actually be prescribed alcohol as a medical treatment by a physician.
For all the details, head on over to their website and peruse until your heart's content. While there are a lot of details there it's decently arranged and easy to read. Or skip that and share your thoughts on this with a comment.