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Colorado House Bill Aims To Help Independent Retail Liquor Stores

Colorado HB-1373, the ‘Independent Liquor Store & Alcohol Safety Bill’ was introduced in the Colorado Legislature this month and it aims to help Colorado’s independent liquor stores who have been hurt by the proliferation of wine and beer sales in Colorado grocery stores. HB24-1373 is not the omnibus liquor bill we were all expecting (and are still expecting) based on the finding of the 2023 Liquor Advisory Group (LAG) working groups.

Some background on recent Colorado Liquor Law changes:

2016: Dramatic change in Colorado liquor law, permitting grocery stores to obtain a limited number of “liquor-licensed drugstore” licenses, allowing certain grocery stores to sell spirits, wine and beer.

2019: Colorado’s 3.2 beer law eliminated – supermarkets and convenience stores were then allowed to sell full-strength beer and fermented malt beverages (white claw etc.)

2023: Colorado Prop. 125 passed in November 2022, changing Colorado law to automatically allow virtually all grocery stores and convenience stores to sell not only full strength beer, but also wine.  The natural result of this change has been that thousands of grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, Targets, Wal-Marts and Costcos now sell beer and wine – deeply cutting into Colorado retail liquor stores’ beer and wine sales.

Colorado HB24-1373 would (From the HB24-1373 Bill Summary):

  • Eliminate the liquor-licensed drugstore license, effective January 1, 2025. All active liquor-licensed drugstore licenses will convert to a fermented malt beverage and wine retailer license on that date; except that a licensee with a single location may choose to convert the liquor-licensed drugstore license to a retail liquor store license.
  • Require fermented malt beverage and wine retailers to display alcohol beverages for sale in a single location on the licensed premises and prohibit fermented malt beverage and wine retailers from selling alcohol beverages with greater than 14% alcohol by volume.
  • Expand on a wholesaler’s duty not to discriminate when selling products to retailers and allows the state licensing authority to recover the cost of enforcing the anti-discrimination laws from a person found in violation of the anti-discrimination laws.
  • Remove the cap that limits the amount of alcohol beverages certain retailers can purchase from retail liquor stores, liquor-licensed drugstores, and fermented malt beverage and wine retailers.
  • For the delivery of alcohol beverages:
    • Prohibit fermented malt beverage and wine retailers from delivering alcohol beverages to another person licensed to sell alcohol beverages; and
    • Remove the prohibition on a retail liquor store delivering alcohol beverages to another retail liquor store.

Obviously, there is quite a bit going with HB24-1373, and all focused on safety and creating a level playing field for Colorado’s independently owned retail liquor stores – who have faced declining sales over the past few years as Colorado grocery stores gained the ability to sell full strength beer and, in 2023, the ability to sell wine.

Colorado Independent Liquor Stores United (CILSU) is the association advocating for the passage of HB1373.

Expect this to be hard fought with a ton of big money from the wholesalers, grocery stores and convenience stores.

We’ll keep an eye on HB24-1373 … exciting times.

You can read the full text of Colorado HB24-1373 here.

LaszloLaw is a Boulder law firm with national reach. The Boulder liquor lawyers of LaszloLaw provide counsel on a wide range of legal needs including state liquor licensing, complex liquor licensing, federal TTB licensing, outside general counsel, distribution agreements, trademarks, contracts, risk management, and litigation. Contact our Boulder liquor lawyers online or at 303-926-0410 to discuss your legal needs.

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