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New Mexico city eyes banning miniature liquor bottles

Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A northwestern New Mexico city is examining if it can ban the sale of miniature liquor bottles littering the grounds across town.

Farmington Mayor Nate Duckett recently asked City Attorney Jennifer Breakell to investigate if the city could pass an ordinance banning the small liquor bottles, The Farmington Daily Times reports.

Duckett made the request during the May 14 City Council meeting. That request came after a Farmington resident showed up at a City Council meeting with a bag full of miniature liquor bottles he had picked up while walking near Ladera Elementary School.

New Mexico Petroleum Marketers Association state executive Ruben Baca said banning miniature liquor bottles from being sold would likely be a hard battle for the city to win.

The Petroleum Marketers Association lobbies for convenience stores.

“It will be challenged in court and they’ll lose,” Baca said.

In December 2007, Albuquerque notified retailers it would start issuing violations if they sold bottles of alcohol containing 16 fluid ounces or less within 500 feet of schools, religious institutions, residential neighborhoods, designated Metropolitan Redevelopment Areas or city-owned parks and open spaces.

A group of retailers, including Circle K stores, sued Albuquerque. Court documents state the regulations essentially limited the locations where the products could be sold to “few to none.”

The City of Santa Fe was sued a few years later, in 2015, when it attempted to ban the sale of single miniature liquor bottles.

In both cases, the court ruled that the sales are governed through the Liquor Control Act and cities cannot pass ordinances or zoning codes restricting the sales.

Still, the Farmington City Council appears to be supportive of Duckett’s request to look into the legality. Councilor Sean Sharer expressed skepticism.

“Is banning the sale of a product going to stop the behavior?” Sharer said. “I don’t think so.”

Information from: The Daily Times, http://www.daily-times.com

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