ANNAPOLIS — Kids know better than to walk into a liquor store and ask for beer, wine or a bottle of scotch (not without convincing ID, anyway). Now, one MoCo state delegate wants to be sure they can’t score another form of hooch at the local 7-Eleven.
On Monday afternoon, Del Bill Bronrott (D-Dist 16) pitched his idea to ban the sale of “alcopops” at stores licensed to sell only beer. Instead, he said frou-frou drinks like Smirnoff Ice, Bacardi Breezer and Mike’s Hard Lemonade should be sold at stores licensed to sell the harder stuff.
“As many as 10 million underage children drink,” Bronrott testified before the House economic-matters committee. Pin some of that booze abuse on the alcopops, which he said were marketed directly at young people and were available in urban convenience stores.
Marlene Trestman, with attorney general Doug Gansler’s office, was down with Bronrott. “These drinks bare no resemblance to what we traditionally label beer,” she testified. “This bill would put those beverages where distilled spirits are sold.”
So what the hell is an alcopop?
According to the bill’s text, such a drink is no more than 6% alcohol by volume — the same as beer. But unlike beer, which is totally the product of fermentation, an alcopop can pull just under half of its alcohol content from other sources of booze. In other words, it’s a mixed drink.
“These are not flavored beers,” Trestman said. “They’re lemonades, they’re colas.”
But should alcopop sales be restricted to hard-core liquor stores, as the bill demands?
If that were to happen, downtown Silver Springers would have to hit the county-operated liquor depot on Colesville Road to score what The Penguin mailroom guys dub “wussahol”. Smaller joints like the hood’s assorted delis would be out of the running.
And that was the rub for Del Donna Stifler (R-Dist 35A), who sits on the economic-matters committee. The Harford County rep said small stores that handle their business legitimately would be stuck with sacrificing revenues, despite their compliance with checking IDs and keeping kids out of the liquor case.
The committee should announce today whether the bill will move forward for further consideration.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user FaeryBoots.