According to the Heritage Foundation, a bill pending before the U.S. Senate, the “Maple Agriculture Protection and Law Enforcement Act of 2011,” or the “MAPLE Act,” would make it a crime punishable by up to five years in prison, to knowingly and willfully introduce into state commerce products falsely labeled as maple syrup.

This legislation, which applies to any product purporting to be maple syrup which is less than 66 percent maple sap, is yet another example of overcriminalization.False representations of maple syrup are already combated by fraud actions in civil lawsuits, or a variety of already-available torts, such as false advertising. Duplication of laws, as is the case here, leads to over-prosecution and bloated criminal justice expenditures.

In 2011, the Texas Public Policy Foundation as well as the Heritage Foundation and others posted a criminal law checklist for federal legislators in order to combat overcriminalization. The MAPLE Act runs afoul of several of the principles detailed on the checklist, suggesting that this law might be more sap than syrup.