Consider This: Fix The ABC

Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 6:39 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Mississippi Alcohol Beverage Commission was founded after the state ended its prohibition in 1966. Not much has changed with that operation in the past 50 plus years.

In fact, Mississippi is one of only 17 states that are categorized as control states when it comes to the distribution of wine and spirits. Mississippi’s ABC structure is inefficient, and the one location warehouse is an antiquated model.

It has been an issue for years, but the increase in alcohol consumption during the current pandemic only exposed those shortcomings on a grander scale.

To address those issues, and look at alternatives, the state legislature created a committee to examine ways to improve the distribution system. The committee met this week and will meet again in November, with plans to present options that the state legislature can implement when they are back in session.

Different ideas that have been tossed around including leaving the operation as it is today, moving to a public/private structure or privatizing it completely. The last option is how beer distribution is handled in Mississippi and it seems to work fine.

As the committee is studying the ABC operation, it needs to take a holistic approach, not focusing solely on distribution. The entire model is dated and needs to be transformed. Grocery stores should be allowed to sell wine. And why are liquor store operators limited on how many stores they can own? That restriction needs to be removed.

Like many things in Mississippi that need to be updated to reflect the world of today, the ABC is one of those. Hopefully, the commission will offer a proposal that brings us into the 21st century.

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