Supporters of a ballot question that would let convenience stores and other food stores sell beer and wine won a key legal battle in Massachusetts's highest court on Tuesday.
The question was launched by the convenience store chain Cumberland Farms and would let local authorities issue licenses allowing food stores to sell beer and wine.
Local licensing authorities would have the discretion to determine the number of licenses they issue. The new licenses would be in addition to existing licenses issued for the sale of alcoholic beverages.
Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey had ruled that the question passed constitutional muster, but critics — including liquor store owners, who could experience greater competition if it is approved — went to court to challenge Healey's ruling, saying the question violated some of the prohibitions. The Supreme Judicial Court sided with Healey.
The decision allows supporters to gather a second round of signatures with an eye on getting the question on the November ballot.
The new licenses could be issued as soon as December if the question is approved. There would also be no limits on the number of licenses any one company could control after a phase-in period.