The Good and Bad of Recent Colorado Alcohol Reforms

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Colorado’s recent reform to allow grocery stores to sell beer stronger than 3.2 percent took effect on January 1st of this year. While this ushered in a much-need change, Derek Draplin for Watchdog.org detailed another provision of the reform that’s more problematic (and interviewed R Street’s Jarrett Dieterle about is as well):

Other parts of the new law could spell trouble for smaller retailers, such as those in rural areas or mom-and-pop restaurants that currently sell carry-out cans of 3.2 percent alcohol beer in addition to serving beer.

SB 243 eliminated "on-off premise licenses," which allowed retailers to sell beer for consumption off-site, like a 6-pack of the 3.2 percent beer, and also sell and serve beer, like at a restaurant. The new law requires retailers to pick between the two types of licenses.

Small mom-and-pop retailers like The Last Stand in Weldona now face a tough choice if a legislative fix doesn’t come soon…

Jarrett Dieterle, director of commercial freedom policy for the R Street Institute, which runs the alcohol policy website DrinksReform.org, told Watchdog that flexible licensing schemes are important for localities and states to adopt.

“In general, states and localities should consider ways to increase the flexibility of alcohol licensing options,” Dieterle said. “Creating more flexibility and less rigidity in licensing schemes would allow different types of establishments to adopt models that work for them and their communities.”

Read the rest here. A bill to fix this problem and allow on/off-premise beer licenses in rural areas was just introduced in the Colorado legislature.