Mass. ballot question 3: Several changes could impact the way alcohol is bought, sold in the state

Mass. — Massachusetts Ballot Question 3 would bring several changes to the way alcohol is bought and sold in the state.

A “Yes” vote would increase the number of licenses that retailers can have for beer and wine sales. The number of licenses any one company can own would go from nine to 12 licenses in 2023, 15 licenses in 2027, and 18 in 2031.

That means you would likely see more grocery and convenient store chains selling beer and wine in your area.

When it comes to hard alcohol sales, Question 3 would put a cap on stores looking for licenses to sell both wine and liquor. That cap would be at 7, unless a retailer already holds more.

As for how Question 3 would impact you when you shop, if passed, all alcohol purchases would have to be made face-to-face: no self-checkout. Out-of-state drivers licenses would be listed as acceptable proof of a person’s identity and age.


Yes on 3 supporters say these changes give consumers what they want: more convenience and protection against illegal sales.

“There’s over 700 stores in Massachusetts, small mom and pop stores, convenience stores. All of those people are asking you to vote yes. There’s only one person that’s asking you to vote no. And they’re an out-of-state, multibillion dollar corporation,” Yes on 3 spokesman Ryan Maloney told Boston 25 news from his Westborough package store, Julio’s Liquors.


The corporation Maloney referred to is Total Wine & More, the driving force behind the “No on 3″ campaign.

In an email to Boston 25 News, Total Wine’s vice president of public affairs, Edward Cooper, laid out their argument.

Cooper said if Question 3 passes, it will “…help retailers who charge higher prices, offer a more limited selection of products, provide less responsive service and an inferior shopping experience.”

Cooper went on to write, “While the number of grocery and convenience stores that can sell beer and wine may double, the opportunity for family-owned, responsible all-alcohol package stores owners who have the vision and the motivation to grow and meet the needs of their customers will be significantly limited.”

Both sides agree serious reforms are needed to the state’s alcohol licensing laws.

But those who are pushing for No votes say this ballot is not the answer.

The Yes side, says it’s a good compromise that “evens the playing field so that everybody can decide to compete in the marketplace.”

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