Mass Retailers Seek Access to Broader Markets

February 18, 2011

In a change of policy for MassPack, the state's retailers are trying to have the restrictions on their ability to "export" wine lifted so they can compete for sales in other markets. A bill was submitted to the new session of the state legislature sponsored by Rep. Torrisi (Dem. North Andover). It has yet to be assigned a bill number.


MassPack has historically argued against interstate shipping by MA retailers as part of a strategy that was intended to defend against shipments into the state by wineries and out-of-state retailers. However Family Winemakers of California successfully sued to have the production caps removed as a precondition for winery shipments into the state, a decision and appeal that was settled last year. Notwithstanding a contradictory ruling in Arizona, MassPack has decided that this is the time to push for greater freedoms rather than wait to see if the SCOTUS will weigh in on this decision. 


A point of context; it is more common that state enforcement of their wine shipping laws be limited to deliveries into their home state. Most state's appear to take the attitude that enforcement of a delivery into another state is the other state's concern (presumably a cost of enforcement issue). MA was one of only a few states that was known to enforce restrictions on in-state retailers making shipments out of state. It could be argued that this policy limited the growth of in-state retailers while retailers in other states were shipping to between 20-30 states.


The language in the bill introduced by MassPack is as follows:


An Act Relative to the direct shipment of alcohol
SECTION 1. Section 15 of Chapter 138, of the Massachusetts General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the last sentence the following new paragraph:-
Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, an alcohol retailer licensed under this section, may sell and ship alcohol directly to a resident of the Commonwealth or another state where the shipment would be allowed, who is at least 21 years of age, for such resident's personal use, and not for resale.

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