The judges also seemed concerned that only the 15 largest counties in the state would be allowed to sell wine in grocery stores.
Attorneys representing Oklahomans for Modern Laws said the population requirement was added to minimize the impact on law enforcement agencies, as well as to cushion the blow to the liquor store industry.
They also said the law changes would be phased in to allow lawmakers more time to adjust, including the possibility of increasing the budget of state agencies such as the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission, if deemed appropriate.
If the ballot language is approved by the justices, Oklahomans for Modern Laws will have to collect 155,216 signatures and must have them submitted 60 days before November's general election.
The group has been trying for years to change Oklahoma's liquor laws and has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Brian Howe, the group's spokesman, said its research suggests Oklahomans are ready for a change and would support the constitutional amendment, which could be among the most significant in state history.
“I think this really would represent potentially the third biggest change to our constitution,” said John Maisch, an ABLE Commission attorney, during a recent interview with The Oklahoman.
Other significant changes include the end of prohibition in 1959, and a 1984 amendment that allowed for liquor to be sold by the drink.
CONTRIBUTING: Jennifer Palmer, staff writer
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