Retail Liquor Association Of Oklahoma Files Lawsuit Against ABLE - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Retail Liquor Association Of Oklahoma Files Lawsuit Against ABLE Commission

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -Some local liquor stores are standing behind a lawsuit against the Alcoholic Beverages Law Enforcement Commission...and it's all over the passage of State question 792.

The Retail Liquor Association filed the lawsuit Monday in Oklahoma County against the ABLE Commission, saying State question 792 is unconstitutional. It's passage will allow the sale of full strength beer and wine in grocery and convenience stores. Those who are opposed to the plan say it will give these stores an unfair advantage. But those who support state question 792 say Oklahoma's current alcohol and liquor laws are outdated. Currently, grocery and convenience stores can sell beer and wine with only 3.2 percent or less alcohol content. 

Equal protection--That's what JP Richard, owner of Cache liquor store says they're fighting for in the lawsuit against Alcoholic Beverages Law Enforcement Commission. He say's there's a lot more to the issue surrounding state question 792 than meets the eye.

"It's an unequal playing field," said Richard. "They treat us as if liquor is something that's different than wine in terms of alcohol and that's not true. Wine and beer is just as dangerous as vodka and bourbon."

Starting in 2018, grocery stores and convenient stores would not have the same restrictions as liquor stores.

And, while Liquor store owners are only licensed to sell in two different locations. The new plan will allow convenience stores and grocery stores to get as many licenses as they wish.

Richard says this isn't fair and gives favor to convenient stores and out-of-state businesses over locally-owned package stores.

"We think there's a better way to do it," said Richard. "We think that we can  give Oklahomans wine in grocery stores, give them single strength beer, which they demand, but we think it should be incremental to give us a chance to adjust. We're the Oklahomans, not Wal-mart, not Quik Trip. We are. We're the ones that have been here."

Lynn Mason, Owner of Fluffys liquor store says he's concerned about the number of customers he'll lose to the big retailers because of convenience. He says he will try to make up for the money lost in adding products within the 20 percent of sales being non-alcoholic items.

"Some will go to grocery stores to buy their boxed wines and things like that, but there is a certain amount of loyalty to your local retail store. It's very hard to have a whole lot of loyalty to Walmart or Costco. They're just big boxes and that's where this business will be going."

More than 900,000 people voted in favor of state question 792 on the November ballot, but Richard says they still have time make a change before it goes into effect in October 2018.

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