Buying Wine Online in Massachusetts

Liquor LicenseA Boston Globe editorial this week called on the Massachusetts Legislature to relax the state’s alcohol laws to allow out-of-state wineries to ship their product directly to Massachusetts consumers.  The state is in fact in violation of a 2006 US Supreme Court decision that invalidated state laws prohibiting wineries located outside of states from shipping directly to consumers in that state.  A bill to overturn the state ban on such shipments did not make it through the last legislative session, despite support from lawmakers and the governor.  The Globe says now is the time for legislative action.

If the Legislature has to choose between abiding by a Supreme Court decision or protecting the short-term business interests of established package stores, following the high court ought to be the wiser path. Besides, it’s not the Legislature’s job to shield package stores from all possible competition; it’s to set up fair rules for direct shipping — and then get out of the way.

The State House News reports that the Massachusetts Package Store Association is generally opposed to online wine shipments from out of state.  However if the law is changed, they want Massachusetts liquor stores to be able to sell online as well.  It appears that lawmakers are eager to find a compromise solution amenable to both sides.

Rep. Theodore Speliotis (D-Danvers), who chairs the Consumer Protection Committee that gave the wine buying bill an unfavorable rating this week, said Thursday that while he favors removing the buying restriction, the state needs to find a way to protect local sellers.   Speliotis said he hopes the wine industry and the local package store owners will reach a consensus on a bill. They frequently discuss the issue to come up with a solution, he said.

The Wellesley Wine Press Blog suggests that Massachusetts could be losing out on about $3 million in tax revenue by not allowing out of state wineries to ship directly to Massachusetts residents.

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