Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control

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The Department of Liquor Control is a government agency within the County of Montgomery, Maryland and holds monopoly on the sale of certain alcoholic beverage throughout the county's 507-square-mile (1,310 km2) area. It is one of four counties in Maryland designated as an Alcohol Beverage Control County, the other ABC Control counties being Somerset,[1] Worcester[2] and Wicomico.[3]

Between 1880 and 1933, sale of alcohol was prohibited within Montgomery County.[4]

The Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control was established on July 1, 1951. Montgomery County's Liquor Control Board was created under the terms of Section 159 of Article 2B of the Annotated Code of Maryland. The Board of License Commissioners, which had been created on December 5, 1933, became a completely separate entity. The Board is responsible for licensing and regulation of liquor, a responsibility which they share with both local and county police departments.

The Department of Liquor Control distributes spirits, wines and liquors through its 24 owned and operated retail stores[5] throughout the county. The MCDoLC is the only authorized sellers of spirits for off-premises consumption in the county.

According to the Liquor Control Department Rules and Regulations the only exception to this monopoly are four grocery stores[6] whose licenses to sell hard liquor were grandfathered prior to the change of the alcohol laws in the state but according to the Liquor Commission's annual report, page 3, this number has been reduced to one establishment.[7] Other off-premises license holders may sell only wine and beer. Due to the monopoly several restaurants including Dogfish Head have expressed frustration as their own beers must travel from their breweries through the Board before ending up in the restaurant itself. This has led to instances of misplaced shipments resulting in a beer company being unable to sell its own product in its own restaurant.

Maryland state law also bans grocery stores from selling beer and wine.[8] Four grocery chains — Giant Food, Safeway, Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, and Magruder's — received an exception under a grandfather clause and these four are allowed to have one location that sells beer and wine in Montgomery County: Giant’s White Oak store in Silver Spring, Safeway in Olney, Shoppers in Germantown, and Magruder's in Gaithersburg (NOTE: all Maryland Magruder's locations were closed in 2013). In addition to the aforementioned grocery chains, one Montgomery County location of 7-Eleven convenience store — in Aspen Hill — was granted an exception to sell beer and wine.[8] These licenses can be transferred to any of the chain’s other locations in Montgomery County subject to approval by the county Board of License Commissioners.[8]


  1. ^ Somerset County Liquor Control Board
  2. ^ The Liquor Control Board of Worcester County Archived 2011-02-02 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Wicomico Wines & Spirits/Wicomico Liquor Control Board
  4. ^ McMaster, Richard K.; Hiebert, Ray Eldon. A Grateful Remembrance: The Story of Montgomery County, Maryland. Montgomery County Government and the Montgomery County Historical Society. 1976. p. 197.
  5. ^ County of Montgomery Department of Liquor Control Retail Store Directory. Archived 2010-12-16 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Rules and Regulations, Board of License Commissioners of Montgomery County, Maryland Archived 2011-04-02 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ 2010 Annual Report of the Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control Archived 2011-06-17 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ a b c Kristi Tousignant. "Briggs Chaney Will Lose Beer and Wine Sales at Grocery". Archived 2015-04-02 at the Wayback Machine. The Gazette. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2013.

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