In 1919 a referendum banned the sale of spirits, but wines and fortified wine could still be sold. Norway, however, remained
a nation of private stills – the illicit spirit trading flourished; smuggling was rife. Suddenly, a new phenomenon appeared,
the so-called ”spirits doctors”. It was, in fact, quite permissible to buy spirits, but only for medical purposes and when
prescribed by a doctor. In 1923 a staggering 1.8 million prescriptions were issued.
In addition, production from home stills soared and distillation apparatus bubbled in both urban and rural districts.
Norway encountered trade policy problems with the wine-producing nations – spirit producers in France, Spain and Italy lost
market potential. The authorities eventually recognised that the prohibition created so many major problems that a remedy
had to be found. As a compromise measure, it was agreed to establish a state-run monopoly designed to regulate the sale of
alcohol. Accordingly, the State Wine Monopoly was established in 1922. The prohibition of spirits lasted right up to 1927,
when a new referendum called for it to be abolished.