Coloradans Might Fix Their Arcane Booze Rules
Colorado is known for many things: Beautiful mountain vistas, epic skiing, and, in recent years, a fairly freewheeling attitude toward weed. According to industry observers, the state consistently ranks as one of the top five cannabis-friendly states. But in stark contrast to this open attitude toward cannabis, Colorado is mired in the dark ages when it comes to booze. This November, Colorado voters will have the opportunity to change that through three pending ballot petitions.
Any Coloradan who steps foot inside a grocery store notices a peculiar reality: A humble bottle of wine is nowhere to be found. That’s not an accident, since grocery and convenience stores in the state are legally prohibited from selling wine.
Compounding this archaic rule is another outdated one that forbids most on-demand delivery services from dropping off alcohol at consumers’ homes. This means that parents who buy their household’s weekly groceries via a third-party on-demand delivery app—a common practice post-COVID—cannot add a six-pack of craft beer alongside their eggs and granola.
These restrictions are outliers in modern America, as 40 states currently allow wine to be sold in grocery stores and the 36 allow third-party delivery companies to deliver beer and wine. These states are as politically diverse as deep-blue California and deep-red Alabama.
Curiously, Colorado already allows grocery and convenience stores to deliver alcohol so long as they use on-staff employees to do so. However, given the way the modern system of grocery and beverage delivery works, many grocery stores partner with third-party delivery companies to oversee the delivery component of their businesses.
Requiring a grocery store to provide on-site store clerks as well as an entire fleet of delivery drivers often makes it financially and logistically impractical for stores to offer delivery. Even if a store could make these numbers work, Colorado stores must meet an additional requirement that at least 50 percent of each store’s alcohol sales are from in-person customers rather than from delivery—which arbitrarily hampers more delivery-centric grocery models.
Simply put, Colorado’s alcohol laws are needlessly restrictive and stunt the ability of ordinary citizens to purchase alcohol in ways that most other Americans take for granted. But reform may finally be on the horizon as Coloradans will have three alcohol-related ballot pro
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