Alcohol is different from other products. It is the only product that is the subject of a constitutional amendment, in fact, two amendments: the 18th and the 21. Alcohol enriches our culinary experiences, our family gatherings, and social events, but if abused, it has the potential to harm individuals, families, and societies as a whole. For this reason, it is carefully regulated. All alcohol regulation is a delicate balance between competition and availability, on the one hand, and appropriate limitations on its sale and use, on the other. Our delicately balanced regulatory system has withstood the test of time and has well-served those competing goals.
There are three, inter-related cornerstones of our liquor regulatory system: three-tier laws, tied-house laws, and franchise laws. Minnesota’s current regulatory system has served brewers, retailers and consumers very well. Minnesotans enjoy unprecedented choice and variety in the beer industry, unparalleled by any other country in the world. Consider the soda industry. Go into any grocery store and look at the soda shelves. You will see 20 feet of Coke products, 20 feet of Pepsi products, and perhaps 1 or 2 feet of independent sodas. In contrast, visit your local liquor store and view the hundreds of different beers offered. That is largely a consequence of our current regulatory structure and the investments made by distributors.