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Politics & Government

Convenience Stores Redouble Efforts to Sell Cold Beer

Indiana convenience stores won’t stop their push to make the sale of cold beer in their shops legal. Instead, they’re filing a new lawsuit and appealing their existing case.

Under Indiana law, only liquor stores are allowed to sell cold beer.  The Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association filed a lawsuit against the state last year in federal court, seeking to strike down the law. 

But a judge ruled against the organization last month, saying the legislature has the right to regulate alcohol sales, noting a compelling interest in reducing minors’ access to cold beer. 

The IPCA is appealing that ruling with a federal appeals court.  The group’s attorney, John Maley, says Indiana’s law just doesn’t make sense.

“The grocery stores and convenience stores actually can sell actually a higher alcohol content wine or wine coolers cooled,” Maley said. “Thirteen-point-five percent alcohol versus a four-to-six percent beer.”

The IPCA is also filing a new lawsuit, this time in a Marion County court, arguing the law violates the Indiana Constitution.  Maley points to the grocery and convenience stores’ record of compliance with Indiana’s alcohol laws – a significantly better record than restaurants, bars and liquor stores.

“These are responsible, sophisticated businesses, not one-off liquor stores that have an incentive to sell that next 12-pack because they need the three bucks in profit,” Maley said.

Patrick Tamm is the CEO of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, representing Hoosier liquor stores.  He cites what the federal judge wrote in his ruling, that comparing compliance statistics when grocery and convenience stores don’t sell cold beer is problematic and irrelevant.  Tamm calls the stores suing the state “large corporate interests with deep pockets.”

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