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New laws bring stronger alcohol, beer shortage to Oklahoma

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third story in a series as The Constitution takes a look back at the top events in 2018.

The availability of wine and strong beer was expanded this year in Oklahoma — while also inadvertently creating a beer “shortage” for several weeks.

Nearly two years after State Question 792 was passed in 2016, giving grocery and convenience stores the ability to sell stronger alcohol once originally exclusive to liquor stores, changes went into effect Oct. 1. The new freedom brought more choices to Oklahoma shoppers. But in the weeks leading up to Oct. 1, it created a shortage as stores rushed to sell their “weaker” beer in order to make space for the “stronger” drinks.

Oklahoma had previously had some of the strictest alcohol laws in the U.S., with the aforementioned grocers and convenience stores restricted to selling beer that was no more than 3.2 by weight. The Sooner state was one of only five in the country with such restrictions on the law books. Approved by voters in 2016, SQ792 permitted grocers, convenience stores and drug stores to sell beer up to 8.99 percent alcohol by volume and wine up to 14.99 percent. It also allowed for wine to be refrigerated in stores.

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