Bill Opening Up Direct Shipping of Wine Introduced in Maryland

In January, Maryland’s General Assembly introduced legislation to legalize the direct shipment of wine to consumers from out-of-state wineries and retailers.  Maryland is just one of just 13 states that prohibit winery-to-consumer direct shipping and one of 36 states that prohibit direct shipments by out-of-state retailers (including internet retailers).  Although the bill seems to have the initial support of many members of the state legislature, the future of direct shipping in Maryland remains uncertain, especially considering the fact that similar legislation introduced in each of the past three legislative sessions failed, largely as a result of strong lobbying efforts on the part of wholesalers who desire to keep the strict three-tier system in tact. 
However, a recent report by Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, which supports allowing in-state and out-of-state wineries (although not out of state retailers) to ship wine directly to buyers, may just be the push that out-of-state wineries are hoping for. The study concluded that one of the primary concerns with direct shipping, underage access, has not been an issue in states that already allow direct shipping and therefore should not be a problem in Maryland. The study also concluded that the direct shipping prohibition negatively affects Maryland wineries. Under current Maryland law, a direct shipment of wine in or out of the state is a felony.
For more information or assistance on direct shipping issues, contact Bahaneh Hobel at [email protected]
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