Anheuser-Busch Loses Bid to Sell Hard Liquor in MA

     (CN) – Anheuser-Busch’s license to sell alcohol in Massachusetts was properly limited to beer and wine, the Massachusetts’ Court of Appeals ruled.

     The Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission canceled Anheuser-Busch’s license to sell unlimited kinds of alcoholic beverages, limiting the company to beer and wine sales.
     The company has sold beer in Massachusetts since 1963 and sought to expand its license to include hard liquor.
Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Massachusetts challenged the expansion of Anheuser-Busch’s license, and the commission and trial court agreed that it should be canceled.
     Out-of-state companies like the Missouri-based Anheuser-Busch must distribute alcohol through state-licensed wholesalers. These out-of-state companies are barred from holding wholesalers’ licenses unless they’ve held both a beer-and-wine license and an all-alcohol license since Jan. 1, 1963.
     Judge Sikora agreed with the trial court that Anheuser-Busch needed to hold both licenses to qualify for the grandfather clause, which was adopted in 1971.
     “(Anheuser-Busch’s) proposed interpretation requires us to convert the phrase ‘a license’ to ‘any license.’ The 1971 Legislature was presumably aware of the two distinctive wholesaler licenses and could have used alternative wording if it had intended it,” Sikora wrote.

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