Has John A. Maisch, the general counsel for the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement (ABLE) Commission, ever been to a grocery store? By reading his Sept. 8 Oklahoma Gazette Commentary "Alcohol in grocery stores," you wouldn't think so.
The proposed amendment is to make it legal to sell wine somewhere other than at liquor stores, and his argument is that by doing so, underage people will have easier access to alcohol.
Do me a favor: Walk down the beer isle at any grocery store. Sure it's all "nonintoxicating" beer, but we all know how accurate that term is. The study that is referenced took place in the United Kingdom. In grocery stores in the UK, you can buy high-point beer, wine and liquor. The proposed amendment is to only allow wine to be sold in those stores, not high-point beer and not liquor.
I don't know about you, but when I was 18, I sure longed for a nice bottle of Merlot to get me drunk. And I'm sure most people under 21 that like to get drunk aren't happy with a case of Keystone Light or Nattie Light, or a bottle of Boone's Farm.
Knowing that people like Maisch are involved with the ABLE Commission makes sense to me. I always wondered why they think that putting "No one under 21" signs all over a bar top, and surrounding it with rope and stanchions, will keep underage drinkers away. It's flawed logic that only creates more things that they can fine a bar for.
Perhaps that's a reason behind him not being behind the change. Where would all of the stores put the rope and stanchions? Not to mention that it would create 4,000 new places that ABLE would have to check for compliance. That's a lot of stores for four commissioners.
If someone really wants to get drunk, and they are underage, they will find a way. More than likely, it will involve someone of age buying it for them, and stopping the changing of an "antiquated" law will not change that. Yep, antiquated. I said it.
Simmons has worked as a bartender or bar manager for seven years in Oklahoma City and Norman.