Absinthe was banned in many countries in the early 1900s but many of those countries have now repealed their law concerning Absinthe and it is now legal in most countries around the world. In some countries it is still a crime, prosecutable by the police, to make or supply Absinthe and others have thujone regulation.
So, where is Absinthe illegal?
The United States – The law of the USA states that only “thujone free” beverages can be sold in the USA. Fortunately test equipment used in the US allows Absinthe with 10 parts per million or less to pass as “thujone free”. Many suppliers produce Absinthe with low thujone levels and so can sell their Absinthes legally.
France – “Absinthe” or “La Fee Verte” is still illegal in France, only spirits labeled “spiritueux à base de plantes d’absinthe” can be sold. The EU regulates thujone levels and only Absinthes containing 10mg/kg of thujone or less are legal in the EU. France also regulates fenchone levels. Fenchone is a chemical found in fennel. Absinthe producers have to produce low fenchone Absinthes (5mg/kg or less) to sell in France although normal Absinthe can be distilled in France.
The EU (European Union) – only Absinthes or alcohol which contain 10mg/kg or less of thujone can be bought or sold within the EU. “Bitters” can contain up to 35mg/kg of thujone.
Ireland – Absinthe is still illegal in Ireland but it can be shipped from abroad for personal consumption.
Serbia – Alcohol containing thujone is illegal in Serbia.
Why was Absinthe made illegal in the first place?
Absinthe was thought to be much more than a simple drink, it was thought to be like a drug. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, the prohibition movement and medical profession were claiming that thujone, a chemical in wormwood, was similar to THC in cannabis and was psychoactive. They alleged that it caused psychedelic effects and also convulsions, brain damage, insanity and death. It was even claimed that Absinthe was to blame for a man murdering his pregnant wife and children even though he had only consumed two glasses of Absinthe earlier that day, followed by lots of other types of liquor!
Absinthe was banned in 1912 in the USA, 1915 in France and many other countries banned Absinthe at this time. Governments felt that Absinthe was a danger and one French politician famously said “If Absinthe isn’t banned, our country will rapidly become an immense padded cell where half the Frenchmen will be occupied putting straitjackets on the other half.”
However, we now know from research and from tests on Absinthe, that these claims and allegations were just part of the mass hysteria of the time regarding alcohol and the drugs that were freely available. Prohibitionists used Absinthe to fuel their anti-alcohol campaign.
Ted Breaux, an Absinthe distiller, tested vintage Absinthes with gas chromatography tests and, to his surprise, found that Absinthe only contained trace amounts of thujone – not enough to cause hallucinations, never mind causing harm to a person’s health. It would be impossible for anyone to drink enough Absinthe to have any effects from the thujone, they would die of alcohol poisoning first! The only effects you will get from consuming too much Absinthe is a strange “clear headed” drunkenness cause by the mix of herbs, some of which are of a sedative nature and others that are stimulants.
If you have trouble finding genuine Absinthe in your country, then you should consider making your own Absinthe from essences. AbsintheKit.com produce Absinthe essences for the Absinthe industry and for the public. Their essences are already distilled and are made out of top-quality classic Absinthe herbs. They are also very economical because a kit to make 14 bottles of Absinthe only cost $29 and that includes a handy measure and bottle labels too. All you have to do is to mix the essence with vodka or Everclear – easy!
So, don’t worry about where is Absinthe illegal, make your own!