Oklahoma has some of the strictest liquor laws in the country when it comes to the sale of alcohol. It wasn’t until 1984 that restaurants were allowed to serve individual drinks in Oklahoma. Currently, Oklahoma is only one of 5 states that still sells beer with 3.2 percent alcohol by weight in grocery and convenience stores. If you love craft beer or wine, you have to get it hot at a liquor store.
Today the Oklahoma State Senate approved Senate Joint Resolution 68 to be sent to the voters sometime in November 2016 by a vote of 30-14. This measure basically amends the parts of the state constitution that limits the sale of alcohol. If passed, grocery and convenience stores will be able to sell strong beer and wine until 2am and on Sundays, and liquor stores will be able to sell cold high point beer.
One thing that many may not know about the amendment is that it would change how alcohol is distributed in Oklahoma. Wine and liquor manufacturers are not currently able to sell directly in Oklahoma. Manufacturers are required to use a single middle man, or broker, who is legally able to wholesale Alcohol in Oklahoma. Oklahoma is the only state in the country that has a distribution system that operates in this manner. Joint Resolution 68 will allow manufacturers to decide to which and how many wholesalers they use to distribute their product.
Opponents of the change claim that it will create less competition, cut jobs and possibly increase prices. This claim stems from the fact that big out-of-state owned corporate stores will be able to undercut locally owned liquor stores and force them out of business. Then as competition dries up prices will rise.
Many opponents are willing to compromise but would like to see changes that allow liquor stores to sell non-alcoholic items, which is currently outlawed in Oklahoma. They claim that allowing them to sell non-alcoholic products in their stores will give them the ability to compete with the grocery and convenience store chains and possibly save many jobs.
There are many other arguments for and against changing our state’s liquor laws, but no matter what your position is on the matter let your voice be heard this November.