It seems that Pennsylvania and Colorado aren’t the only states plagued by ridiculously nonsensical laws regarding the sale of alcohol. WLFI out of West Lafayette, Indiana reports that a battle between grocery, pharmacy, and convenience stores versus liquor stores to sell cold beer to consumers has escalated to the federal level.
Under Indiana law the distinction between convenience stores and liquor stores means that only liquor stores can sell cold beers to customers. While grocery stores, pharmacies, and other convenience stores can sell beer, it must be sold at room temperature.
The Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association or IPCA are arguing before federal court that this law creates a two tiered system of beer sales that gives preferential treatment and thus an unfair advantage to liquor stores. The IPCA claims this is a violation of equal protection under the law and thus a violation of their constitutional rights.
While I would agree with the IPCA that this restriction is “irrational and discriminatory” and that “it is not the job of government to pick winners and losers in the marketplace” I am not sure of the validity of the violation of the Equal Protection Clause in this case. Though it should be noted that I am not a lawyer.
The Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers or IABR has done a good job thus far stalling law makers in Indiana from legislatively negating this absurd temperature based restriction.
What is interesting is that Indiana is the only state in the United States to regulate beer sales based upon the temperature of the beer at the time of sale. And what should come as a surprise to no one with any real understanding of the image of beer versus other alcohols in the current public zeitgeist, this restriction does not apply to the sale of wines.
While this regulation makes little sense outside the desire to drive spontaneous beer sales toward liquor stores and away from convenience store,s citizens of Indiana should take comfort in the fact that theirs is not the only state with illogical and downright stupid regulations involving beer.
There is plenty of stupid to go around.