Expanded liquor-store sales: Another glass act from Blake Harrison

Sick of that 3.2 swill at 7-Eleven? Tired of waiting for legislators to give you permission to buy a bottle of vodka at a grocery store? You may get a chance to change the rules yourself, if Initiative 48 makes the November ballot.

Although a proposal to allow convenience stores to sell full-strength beer didn't make it out of committee at the Colorado Legislature, Initiative 48 resurrects that concept -- and takes it much, much further. Not only would convenience stores be able to sell full-strength beer, but supermarkets could sell liquor (a similar proposal is pending at the legislature, but it's failed three times in the last three years), and liquor-store owners could own multiple stores, rather than the single outlet they're limited to now.

The proposal was filed Wednesday by Blake Harrison, an assistant district attorney who'd floated a similar idea in November. Back then, he wasn't supported by stores -- but after a few tweaks in the proposal (including removing a provision for how much space must be devoted to craft beer and wines) and more legislative inaction, Harrison's measure how has the support of the Colorado Retail Council.

Harrison is no newcomer to this fight. Back in 2002, while still a student at the University of Denver, he organized another state ballot initiative to allow Sunday liquor sales -- a common-sense concept Colorado finally adopted in 2008. An assistant district attorney, he's now running for House District 7. "Unafraid of special interests, he is currently leading an effort to allow consumers to purchase beer and wine at grocery stores, his campaign web site states. As for his campaign against 3.2 beer, that weak reminder of Prohibition, he told Westword all about it here.

In order to get on the ballot, Initiative 48 must collect more than 76,000 legitimate signatures. Before that, it has a date with Colorado Secretary of State's title-setting board on April 7.

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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