Package Stores Challenge Cumberland Farms Alcohol Proposal

The 2020 ballot measure would eliminate the cap on locations where retailers can sell beer and wine in Massachusetts. 

November 27, 2019

WESTBOROUGH, Mass.—This summer, Cumberland Farms proposed a ballot that would let retailers sell beer and wine at any of its stores, with no cap on the number of locations. This week, the Massachusetts Package Stores Association has challenged the proposal’s constitutionality, the Boston Business Journal reports. The ballot measure is scheduled to be put to a vote in the November 2020 election.

As well as jettisoning the state cap on locations, the measure would also create a new license for food retailers to offer beer and wine for off-premise consumption. The ballot proposal also contains a requirement for stores to check IDs for all purchasers of alcoholic beverages via barcode scanners.

The lawsuit alleges that the ballot proposal has too many unrelated issues with the only commonality being alcohol. The state’s constitution mandates that a ballot’s issues must be interconnected. However, Cumberland Farms countered that state Attorney General Maura Healey viewed the proposal’s components as constitutional.

Currently, convenience retailers like Cumberland Farms can only register seven alcohol licenses in Massachusetts, with that number rising to nine next year. The ballot proposal would gradually increase the cap yearly through 2023 before eliminating it entirely in 2024.