The rules regarding alcohol distribution in Washington state are now in the hands of voters there and their decision could generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the state, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Washington is one of 18 states, including Utah, that still own, wholesale or retail operations and the ballot measure, known as Initiative 1183, would replace hundreds of state-run liquor stores with private retailers, the Journal reports. The measure would also allow retailers to buy liquor directly from distillers and negotiate volume discounts. Ballots were mailed to Washington residents last Friday and must be returned by Nov. 8.

More than $400 million would be generated for the state in the first six years through licensing fees on retailers and distributors, cost savings and higher liquor consumption, according to a government study cited by supporters.

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Washington-based Costco Wholesale Corp., spearheaded the campaign to collect more than 360,000 signatures needed to put the measure on the ballot and contributed nearly all of the $22.7 million for the “Yes” campaign.

"Consumers will be able to make their choices, rather than politicians,’’ Kathryn Stenger, spokeswoman for the "Yes on 1183 Coalition," to whom Costco referred questions, told the Journal.

Beer distributors and breweries are trying to defeat the measure and the state’s governor, Chris Gregoire, is also opposed.

Jon Byington is the founder of, a news and entertainment website that reaches the growing number of Latinos in the U.S.