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01/19/2017

Mass Faces Familiar Conundrum: Unintended Consequences of Opening Pandora’s Box of Alc Bev Regs

We’ve seen it before.  Industry members, politicians and regulators talk of need to “modernize post-Prohibition-era” alc bev regs/laws.  But when push comes to shove, opening that Pandora’s Box means threatening status quo, parts of which some players really like.  And who knows what may pop in “modernization” move?  So process gets bogged down, sometimes abandoned.  Mass ready to take the plunge this yr, as Boston Globe reports today.  And even tho task force tasked to “create a more cohesive set of rules that ‘deals with the 21st century’” still not fully formed and hasn’t met yet, fretting has begun.  

Two key issues in beer alone: 1) distrib franchise law, which small brewers have been pushing unsuccessfully to revise for years to make it easier to move brands; 2) small brewers’ retail rights.  “Any change has us nervous about the jobs we’ve created and the revenue streams we have,” Rob Burns, prexy of Mass Brewers Guild, told Globe.   Rob’s also concerned distribs will push to limit taprooms, even as his members seek to expand taprooms and get right to sell competing brands in ’em.  Mass distrib assn didn’t comment.  Wineries and retailers have their own concerns, but fear “unintentional consequences” of regulation rewrite.  “I hope there’s a lot of scrutiny...to make sure we’re not unraveling the entire system,” head of package store assn told paper.   “We’re not starry eyed,” Mass Treasurer said. “We know we won’t be able to get everyone to agree...but if we never try, we’ll never get beyond 1933.”  Stay tuned.

Publishing Info

  • Year: 2017
  • Volume: 19
  • Issue #: 13
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