By Shaun Boyd
DENVER (CBS4) – Just when you thought the beer wars were over in Colorado, here we go again.
State lawmakers are considering changes to a law that allows grocery stores and convenience stores to sell full-strength alcohol. As of next January, any store that has a license to sell 3.2 beer can automatically sell full-strength beer. Sales of wine and spirits will be phased in.
Some parents are concerned that, unless the law is changed, 18-year-olds will be able to sell full-strength beer at convenience and grocery stores. “I think both of them offer much greater access and lack of security compared to your traditional liquor stores where the individuals who work there are all over the age of 21 and you can not enter the store if you’re under the age of 21 without the accompaniment of an adult,” says Guy Pasquino, who has two teenagers.
He says allowing 18-year-olds to sell 3.2 beer is different than full strength beer, “It’s about the alcohol beverage content, the amount alcohol in those beverages. If you just have one and think you’re okay to engage in an activity, but now you’ve doubled the alcohol content, you’re not. If you’re longboarding, riding a bike or, god forbid, driving a car the risk is that much greater.”
Senator Chris Holbert, (R) Parker, agrees, “I’m trying to pass a bill this session that would require everyone who sells full strength beer or liquor to be 21.” Holbert is also concerned about convenience stores selling fermented malt beverages with high alcohol content under the new law, “”The concentration saturation of fermented malt beverage sales in some neighborhoods is going to change pretty significantly. We’ve talked about container sizes. Some people would like an alcohol limit. I’m a little shy of that because we’re getting rid one number – 3.2 – and maybe replacing it with another one.”
While there is no stopping changes to the state’s decades-old liquor laws, Pasquino hopes lawmakers proceed with caution, “I think they really have to think of the moral implications and safety implications of this.”
Nearly 1600 convenience and grocery stores in Colorado will be able to sell full-strength beer as of January. Another 141 stores have applied for licenses. Most states allow 18-year-olds to sell alcohol. Only three require the person selling to be 21.