KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Consumers can now buy higher volume beer in grocery and convenience stores on the Kansas side of the state line. A new law took effect April 1 allowing those retailers to sell beer with up to 6 percent alcohol by volume, instead of the previous limit of 3.2 percent.
Missouri allows gas stations and grocery stores to sell “strong beer,” plus wine and liquor. The different rules on alcohol sales aren’t the only quirks consumers have to deal with when living in an area such as Kansas City, which is split between two states.
To understand the state line that exists today, go back in time to 1823. About 19 years after Lewis and Clark passed Kaw Point, Joseph Brown started at the spot where the Missouri and Kansas rivers meet with his task of marking the border of Missouri. His field notes and hand-drawn maps show what his team surveyed as it drew what became the state line.
“A remarkable mound-like hill about half-a-mile wide,” Brown noted about five miles south of Kaw Point.
Leawood police Captain Brad Robbins learned when he joined the police department State Line Road isn’t always divided 50-50 along the state line. Near 103rd Street, for example, it curves around Indian Creek.
"This is probably the most extreme spot," Robbins said.
He warned you can’t get out of a speeding ticket if you stop on the Missouri side of the road when a Kansas officer pulls you over. Robbins said his officers will mail you the ticket, they can’t physically hand it over in Missouri.
"Because we work on the state line, there are laws in place that give us limited jurisdiction in each other's space," he said.
In 2009, QuikTrip tore down and re-built a store at 3101 Southwest Boulevard so it would be completely in Missouri, where the gas tax is 7 cents cheaper per gallon and laws allow convenience stores to sell strong beer, wine and liquor.
Those strict state-by-state alcohol regulations mean John Kane has one of the most unique offices in Kansas City.
"As we mosey along, we're still in Missouri, and if we go down one more section, we'll be over in Kansas," he pointed out while walking through the warehouse of Central States Beverage Company.
Kane is the general manager of beer and liquor distributor. Its headquarters are purposefully on the state line, south of where State Line Road veers into Kenneth Parkway. That way, Central States Beverage Co. can deliver to Missouri and Kansas from one location.
"The beer has to rest in the state in which it's being sold," Kane said. "So you just can't put it on one side and say this is Kansas beer and it's sitting in Missouri. Kansas would like to see it on the Kansas side. And Missouri is the same way."
Working in one building with two addresses comes with its challenges.
"Who do you call in case there is a fire? Who do you call in case of a break-in," Kane asked rhetorically. He said Leawood has the closest fire station.
When the building recently expanded, Kansas City, Missouri, allowed gutters to show on the outside of the building, but Leawood city code had different rules. So the same building has gutters outside on one half and concealed on the inside on the other half of the building.
"They don't want to see the gutters," Kane said.
That's a fact Joseph Brown never could have predicted when he surveyed the line nearly 200 years ago.