Why it’s taking so long to implement Oklahoma’s new liquor laws

TULSA — Oklahomans overwhelmingly passed State Question 792 last November, allowing the sale of full-strength beer and wine at grocery stores, and allowing liquor stores to carry refrigerated beer.

The new law doesn’t go into effect until October 1st of 2018, and KRMG has had several questions about why it’s taking so long.

Lisette Barnes with the Oklahoma Beer Alliance says there are two main reasons the legislature delayed implementation.

The first involves the 18 “dry” counties in Oklahoma.

While liquor stores are allowed in those counties, restaurants and bars are limited to selling 3.2 beer, and each county must vote on whether to allow the sale of full-strength beer.

So far, only three counties have held elections on the question, Barnes says. One said “no,” the other two said “yes.”

The other reason for the delay is that under current law, the Oklahoma Tax Commission regulates the sale of 3.2 beer, while the Alcohol and Beverage Law Enforcement Commission handles other forms of alcoholic beverages.

Under the new law, ABLE will regulate all beer, wine and liquor sales, and that will mean ramping up to handle a major influx of license applications.

The good news, she said, is that when it’s over, Oklahomans will see a much better selection of beer on the shelves, both in markets and at liquor stores.





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