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City’s Alcohol Sales Not Allowed: AG

The city of Clarksville is not allowed by law to sell liquor by the drink, wine or beer, the attorney general has ruled in an opinion citing Tennessee’s history as a ‘bone dry’ state.

The ruling thwarts efforts by the city to raise money by selling beer at parks, which the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle outlines here.

According to the Leaf-Chronicle, the city has made sure that any beer served at its golf courses is served up by private contractors, not the city itself. The paper reports on how the opinion could affect beer sales by the cities of Murfreesboro and Memphis.

Metro Nashville stands out for its stance, detailed by the Tennessean, that it can continue to sell beer.

The AG’s Jan. 9 ruling explains that a city is not a person, firm or any of the other entities that can be issued permits to sell alcohol under state law. A city can’t get around the prohibition by setting up a nonprofit or city employee as the license holder since either would just be a stand-in for the city itself, the opinion says.

The City cannot obtain a license to sell alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption. Only a ‘person, firm, corporation, partnership, or association’ can obtain a license to ‘allow the dispensing of alcoholic beverages except sacramental wines and beer.’ …

Similarly, a beer permit is required for the sale of beer for on-premises consumption, and permits may be obtained only by a ‘person, firm, corporation, joint-stock company, syndicate, or association.’

Governments including the state of North Carolina do sometimes get into the business of direct alcohol sales through state-run stores. Fewer than half the states sell direct, according to the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association.

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