The general rule with alcoholic beverage licensing is that you cannot be involved in more than one “tier” of the industry, meaning that suppliers and importers can’t be wholesalers, wholesalers can’t be retailers, retailers can’t be suppliers, and vice versa. The objective, which came about following the repeal of prohibition, was to promote the organized and responsible distribution of alcohol. It was thought that by keeping the three tiers separate, suppliers would not exert undue influence over retailers, consumers would not be encouraged to over consume, and the societal ills that led to prohibition in the first place would not be repeated. In the 75+ years since the creation of the three-tier system, dozens of exceptions have found their way into the California ABC Act. The tiers are no longer entirely separate and some licensees are permitted to hold licenses in other tiers. For example:
12/18 (Distilled Spirits Importer)/(Distilled Spirits Wholesaler)
17/20 (Wine and Beer Wholesaler)/(Wine and Beer Retailer)
9/17/20 (Wine and Beer Importer)/ (Wine and Beer Wholesaler)/(Wine and Beer Retailer)
There are restrictions on operating under each of these combinations, but the ability to hold them in combination remains a privilege available in California that is not available in many other states. The “tied-house” rules have implications that extend well beyond the licensing structure. If you are interested in learning more about tied-house issues, feel free to contact any of the attorneys here at Strike Kerr & Johns.
Alcohol.law Digest is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2010-2011 · All Rights Reserved ·
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