Most Marylanders want to allow grocery stores to sell beer and wine, according to a new survey conducted by Gonzales Research & Media Services, of Annapolis, on behalf of Maryland Alcohol Choice.
Seventy-two percent of Marylanders responded that they “strongly” or “somewhat” support changing state law to allow grocery stores to sell beer and wine. Support is strong regardless of age, political party, and gender, and is even stronger (75-78 percent) in rural districts.
Senator Cory McCray (D – Baltimore City) and Delegate Lily Qi (D – Montgomery County) will again introduce legislation this year which would allow food retailers to apply for Class A licenses to sell beer and wine in Maryland. The legislators intend to leverage potential alcohol sales to address food insecurity by incentivizing food retailers to locate in food deserts.
“Allowing the purchase of beer and wine in Maryland’s retail food stores provides access in more than one way. The revenue from alcohol sales will not only yield economic benefits, but a leveraging opportunity to address critical issues, like food scarcity. Permitting sales would produce pathways for supermarkets in tougher neighborhoods to provide fresher and healthier choices, increasing food access and restoring our communities,” said McCray.
Maryland is one of only four states in the country that do not allow chain food retailers to sell alcohol. This policy has been in place in the state since the 1970s, and support for alcohol in grocery stores has increased by 9 percent in the last decade. Since November, more than 24,000 emails have been sent by Marylanders asking elected officials to change the law.
An economic analysis conducted by Dunham & Associates in 2020 predicted that the policy change would result in more than 700 net additional retail jobs and $24.1 million in increased tax revenues in the state.
“Maryland needs to update and modernize our laws to reflect how we live our lives in the 21st century,” said Qi. “The online marketplace provides unprecedented choices and increasing competition. We should capture part of that market by offering convenience for local consumers while providing market incentives for fresh grocers.”