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Home / MRA in the News / Unlike most of the country, Maryland consumers can’t purchase alcohol at grocery stores. That may change soon.

Unlike most of the country, Maryland consumers can’t purchase alcohol at grocery stores. That may change soon.

Proponents of reforming Maryland’s beverage alcohol laws are optimistic that next year the Free State will join the majority of the country in granting grocery stores and chain stores the freedom to sell beer, wine and maybe even liquor.

Forty-seven states and D.C. allow grocery stores to sell beer, and 40 and D.C. allow them to sell wine, according to the Maryland Retailers Association. Maryland’s alcohol distribution is governed by a 1978 law that explicitly denies alcohol licenses to chain and discount stores, poorly defined, and limits licenses to Maryland residents, who can only hold one license. Some stores were grandfathered in the 1978 law, which is why the Giant grocery in White Oak, in Montgomery County, sells beer and wine but other Giant outlets don’t. And Maryland gives considerable leeway to counties and cities in regulating alcohol sales, so you will see a few stores with the same or similar names, but you won’t see that they have different family members listed on the licenses.

It’s a messy hodgepodge that does not serve Maryland consumers well. The law was designed to protect the mom-and-pop beer and wine shops that dominate the retail landscape but are beholden to large wholesalers in the national three-tier system established after the repeal of Prohibition. A smattering of independent, quality-minded retailers have chipped away at the margins, especially in cities such as Annapolis, Baltimore and Frederick — and, more recently in Montgomery County. But Marylanders lag behind the rest of the country in their freedom to purchase beverage alcohol.

Click here to read the full article from the Washington Post!

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