Oklahoma Looks to Expand Alcohol Sales in C-Stores

Voters in Oklahoma would be given the option to decide whether eligible grocery stores could sell wine, according to a proposed signature petition drive filed Tuesday seeking to change the state constitution.

Backers hope to gather enough signatures to get the proposed state question on the Nov. 6 ballot. The group Oklahomans for Modern Laws has 90 days to gather about 155,000 signatures of registered voters, The Oklahoman reported.

State law allows wine to be sold only in liquor stores, and not in grocery or convenience stores. The initiative petition was filed nearly six months after a legislative task force studying the potential sale of wine and high-point beer in grocery and convenience stores abruptly voted to hold no more meetings. Several members said it was clear both sides wouldn’t reach an agreement, and others said they were disappointed the group was made up mostly of people opposed to changing the alcohol laws.

Oklahoma’s law allows only low-point beer to be sold in grocery and convenience stores. Retail sales of strong beer or wine must occur in liquor stores, where products cannot be refrigerated. Liquor stores can’t sell any nonalcoholic products, such as snacks, soft drinks or glassware.

Oklahomans for Modern Laws initially looked at an initiative petition effort that would allow wine and strong beer to be sold in grocery and convenience stores of a certain size.

“By limiting the licensing, it gives us a better chance at the polls,” said Brian Howe, the group’s director. “The Oklahoma voters will decide in November if this is a route that they want to go. If it’s something where they want wine to be sold in convenience stores and every grocery store, that might be something to look at in the future. But as far as what we feel like Oklahomans want now, this is as close to an agreement that we could come to, and that’s why we moved forward with it.

Most opposition seemed to come on expanding strong beer sales to grocery and convenience stores, the report said. Low-point beer sales make up about 85% of beer sales in Oklahoma.

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