Comptroller Supports Legislation Allowing Grocery Stores To Sell Beer & Wine

A few on the Eastern Shore are permitted to do so.


Baltimore Md. (KM). A law making it illegal for grocery stores in Maryland to sell beer and wine dates back to the Prohibition era, but that could change. Comptroller Peter Franchot is supporting measures to let grocery stores and supermarkets sell beer and wine.

“It will be a shot in the arm for the economy. It will help the local distributors. And it will also help, in my opinion, the craft beer business and local wineries,” he says.

Franchot, whose agency regulates alcohol sales, and convened the Reform on Tap Task Force to examine Maryland laws governing craft beer makers, says a survey of residents found strong support for this change in the law. “The polls show that nine out of ten Marylanders believe that it is a consumer priority to shop for beer and wine at a grocery store,”he said.

Maryland is one of a handful of states which does not allow grocery stores to sell beer and wine. Pennsylvania allows beer sales in grocery stores. Virginia and West Virginia permit grocery stores to sell wine, but not beer. The sale of either product in grocery stores is not allowed in Delaware.

A small number of grocery stores on the Eastern Shore are allowed to sell beer and wine.

Franchot says if legislation lifting this ban is passed, it would not lead to the closure of liquor stores, which exclusively sell these projects.He says you can see examples of that in Talbot County and other areas on the Eastern Shore where some grocery stores can sell beer and wine.   “The retailers, who thought that they were going to be put our business, the small liquor stores, instead most of them have up their game, and they’re selling a lot more Maryland craft beer,” he says.

Grocery stores and supermarkets could benefit greatly from selling beer and wine. “They’re operating under very thin margins right now,” says Franchot. “We keep complaining about grocery stores not being in all of the urban and rural areas. This would promote grocery stores across the state.”

And it’s convenient, according to Franchot. “Grocery stores  are very safe, accountable and open. They have all sorts of protections against underage drinking that are not present in some of the retail stores around the state, unfortunately,” he says.

Franchot says legislation which permits the sale of beer and wine in grocery stores in Maryland is expected to be introduced during the 2019 General Assembly which begins in January. “We will presenting it, along with others. The Maryland Retailers Association is very, very supportive of this,” he says.

If this legislation passes, Franchot says the alcoholic beverages grocery stores could sell would be limited to  beer and wine.. They could not sell distilled spirits such as whiskey.


By Kevin McManus