Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Liquor initiative: Blake Harrison pours out another one for Colorado -- to get rid of 3.2 beer

When he was still a student at the University of Denver back in 2002, Blake Harrison led a statewide campaign to allow liquor-store sales on Sundays. Six years later, Colorado finally removed the prohibition on Sunday sales.

Harrison's been campaigning to get rid of 3.2 beer -- that weak holdover from Prohibition -- almost as long. And now, with Initiative 48, he may get his way.

Harrison, now a Denver deputy district attorney, is also running for House District 7, and he's making common-sense, consumer-friendly liquor laws part of his campaign. In November, he proposed a measure that would allow convenience stores to sell full-strength beer and grocery stores to sell full-strength beer and liquor -- but he didn't find much support.

Since then, though, the Colorado Legislature has again turned down a proposal to allow convenience stores to sell real beer (for the third time in three years), and a pending bill that would allow grocery store sales of alcohol doesn't seem to be going much further. Which is why the Colorado Retail Council now supports Harrison's Initiative 48, filed Wednesday, which would not only allow convenience stores to sell full-strength beer, but would allow grocery stores to sell beer, wine and spirits (although he's removed the provision that would require a certain area be set aside for craft beers and wine) -- and also allow liquor-store owners to have more than one location.

Initiative 48 has a date with the Colorado Secretary of State's title-setting board on April 7; after that, its proponents will need to collect more than 76,000 legitimate signatures to get it on the ballot.

But in the meantime, let's raise a glass to Harrison.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun