The Annenberg Guide to the United States Constitution

21st Amendment

The Text

Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section 2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or Possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

The Meaning

The nation’s fourteen-year experiment with prohibition ended on December 5, 1933, when Utah became the thirty-sixth state to ratify Amendment XXI. Amendment XXI returned the regulation of alcohol to the states. Each state sets its own rules for the sale and importation of alcohol, including the drinking age.

Because a federal law provides federal funds to states that prohibit the sale of alcohol to minors under the age of twenty-one, all fifty states have set their drinking age there. Rules about how alcohol is sold vary greatly from state to state.