Why is absinthe banned is the United States? What Western European countries permit the sale? When was the ban lifted in France?

Please excuse me if all of these questions have previously been answered.

Because its a recreational drug.

Because it makes the heart grow fonder.

In any case, Absinthe contained wormwood, which was considered a poison (and actually was in the cheaper brands). That led to its being banned; the US joined in in 1912. Most of Europe also banned it, though there were a few countries (IIRC, Czechoslovakia) that never did.

Wormwood is a neurotoxin, and was heavily abused in the nineteenth centuries, though the varieties commercially available today overseas are many times weaker than the stuff that inspired Degas, Van Gogh, Picasso, and the like.

My Canadian connection (no, not Gene Hackman) informs me that absinthe is legal in Canada. Judging by an LCBO search, it seems to be made from anise?

This page looks helpful: http://www.erowid.org/chemicals/absinthe/absinthe_law.shtml

Why is wormwood tea legal then? Or at least I think it is, as the Polish store down the street sells it. Using my rudimentary Polish reading skills, the side of the box breaks down some informatin on alpha- and beta- thujone content, so it does contain the chemical. Gotta tell you, it’s awful awful bitter stuff – easily the most bitter substance I have ever tasted.

Or is my shop selling this illegally?

I don’t think the Czech stuff is made with wormwood either though.

I did a search on Absinthe a couple years ago (after seeing Moulin Rouge and wanting to know what the hell it was). I seem to recall the sites saying that, although its illegal to sell in the US, its not illegal to possess.

It certainly is made with wormwood. Usually, the thujone content is regulated to around 10 ppm. The absinthes of yesteryear were wildly unregulated, and could have a thujone content of several hundred parts per million.

Whether absinthe actually caused people to go nuts is debatable. Some authorities speculate that copper (copper sulfate gave absinthe its characteristic green color) or antimony salts may have had more to do with causing permanent mental problems than any thujone. Or simply chronic alcoholism – absinthe is usually around 140-150 proof. People who were having serious problems were drinking one to two glasses of the stuff a day. Damn, you don’t need any thujone in your alcohol to cause serious mental problems when you’re consuming that much alcohol each day.

So, RealityChuck, you’re now stealing jokes?:

…and of course you know how to say wormwood in Russian?


Absinthe is illegal in the US. We don’t allow links to where you can purchase Absinthe.

Do not post any links to sites that sell absinthe.

DrMatrix - GQ Moderator

That stuff tastes foul anyway!

Drank it last week. A friend brought some back from Prague or Budapest can’t remember which.

Foul is right and 70% strong so it’s rocket fuel even with the supposed wormwood bollocks.

I drank it the way Depp did in From Hell ie. poured through a sugar cube then lit the cube and caramelised it then stirred it into the drink.

Still horrible though but I did get quite drunk.

Actually, the joke goes something like this:

A couple just got married and they were drinking absinthe to toast their union. They both downed a small glass and then smashed their glasses into the fireplace. Shortly, they looked at the fireplace and noticed lots and lots of fish flowing out of it.

The moral of the story: Absinthe makes the hearth grow flounder.

(Thanks. I’ll be here all week.)

It’s not that bad. Basically, for those who have never had it, it tastes like a very strong Pernod/pastis/ouzo/anisette. Aniseed (or licorice) is the predominant flavor in almost all absinthes. (Hill’s is one exception. Their blend goes easy on the aniseed and emphasizes the more minty and herbal qualities. Personally, I think it sucks.)

Anyhow, is it all that it’s cracked up to be? No. Wormwood-containing absinthe has no hallucinagenic properties that I or my friends have observed. At least not these days. It sure does get you out of your head fast, though. Then again, so does Bacardi 151. If you want an aniseed liquor, I’d recommend Pernod over absinthe. Enjoy straight, or pour on the rocks with some water for the perfect summer drink!

According to this site, absinthe is now legal throughout the European Union. This seems to have been a relatively recent development; it used to be legal only in the Czech Republic, Spain, and a few other places (excluding bootleg absinthe, of course).

France still prohibits absinthe vendors from labeling their product as “absinthe”–the government apparently insists that it must be labelled “Spiriteux aux Plantes d’Absinthe” or “Absinthes Distillees.” So technically, it is still illegal to market absinthe in France simply as absinthe, though it seems like semantics more than anything else.

The level of thujone varies from one label to the next. Apparently, 19th-century absinthe had a much higher thujone content than modern absinthe has. Thujone is usually blamed for the hallucinations, etc., that people associated with absinthe–though a lot of the hysteria was also fuelled by temperance leagues, which targetted absinthe as a scapegoat for everything bad about alcohol (thujone or thujone-free, the stuff is very high in alcohol, sometimes up to 70%).

IIRC absinthe was never outlawed in Britain, it was just assumed by everyone that it had been so shops stopped selling it.

It’s been debated before, hailstone, and pretty much debunked.