When you want to buy wine in Oregon, you can pick it up during a trip to the grocery store.

When you want liquor, you have to go to a state-authorized store.

Does that split make any sense any more?

It seems an anachronism in a state that has made it easy to buy marijuana. Does that extra trip have a significant enough benefit for public health? To protect the existing state-approved stores? For some other reason?

Those are the kinds of questions Oregon voters may face about a year from now on the ballot. Lauren Johnson, CEO of Newport Avenue Market in Bend, is one of the sponsors of two possible ballot measures. Both measures would mean a win for grocery stores over state-liquor stores, freeing up more places where Oregonians can buy distilled spirits.

If all this sounds like deja vu, that’s because it’s been tried before and failed. Not these exact ballot measures. Similar ones.

Last week the elections division of the Oregon Secretary of State said both of these new measures have passed the low hurdle of getting enough signatures — 1,000 each — to allow the circulation of petitions. They will now get ballot titles and then supporters will have to round up more signatures — about 112,000 each — to get them on the November 2022 ballot.

The two measures vary slightly. One will likely be withdrawn.

Both would not allow liquor sales at smaller stores, such as many convenience stores. The measures say the premises must be greater than 4,000 square feet. If grocery stores with the appropriate license can be trusted to sell it, why can’t convenience stores? Too convenient?

We can’t predict what these measures would do to liquor prices, the amount of hard liquor consumed or the ability of smaller distillers to get shelf space in big grocery stores. Those are all things worth thinking about if you get a chance to sign a petition.

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(6) comments


From what info I could find on the 90 million expansion and the budget, I can confidently say privatizing Liquor

would save between 12 and 15 million per year goin forward at least.

Nine million per year would be saved from cancelling the expansion. The expansion is to pay for a super Warehouse and IT. It expands on the current system, which is so wasteful it would put any environmentalist in a coma from shock. Each bottle travels past liquor stores to OLCC headquarters, unpacked, placed in boxes, placed in Box Trucks and sent to the Liquor Store the last truck passed (huh?). Imagine FedEx having one Warehouse in the center of the country. Not efficient. Why the OLCC feels the need to literally distrubute the Liquor is not clear as the Marijuana side has distribution licenses and thus the distribution is private and more efficient. Also for liquor, it would be easy to have an electronic chain of custody without having the OLCC involved in Distribution. The OLCC is behaving as if it is still the early 1900s on this point.

The other 2 to 6 million would come from staff reduction which reduces wages and the big retirements at the OLCC, the agents get discounted health care packages and retirement accounts, etc. It could be more, but we live in a political world here.

Lastly, there is another environmental reason besides the goofy way the OLCC distributes liquor. Everyone goes to the Grocery store, but the only reason to go to the liquor store is liquor, thus being able to buy at a grocery store saves us all from getting in the car to go to the liqour store.

Going private is a big win for everyone, in my mind, including the OLCC as it can focus on Marijuana which is out of control (OLCC to control out of the name, btw) and definitely, assuming revenue could remain equal and costs plummet, the Tax payer.

I am for the Privatization of Liquor.


I don't know which is dumber in Oregon: the State monopoly on selling some (but not all) types of alcoholic beverages, or having the State Fire Marshal's Office interfering with how some (but not all) types of fuel gets dispensed into some (but not all) vehicles, in some (but not all) areas of the State. Just needless, inefficient , nanny-state government bureaucracy


The OLCC is expanding to have a stor every 25K people. No control here. Its time to end this costly beauracracy and use the immense savings to help those injured by alcohol abuse. Liver Disease increased 25 percent nation wide since Covid. Half of all murders occur with one or both involved are drunk, etc. Keep taxes on sales at current levels and modernize oversight, whether with rhe OLCC or not. The savings from ending this crazy system is potentially immense!


Its time to end the Oregon Liquor Mafia. The system is based on central planning ideas and is dangerous to a free society. The OLCC is planning to borrow 90 million dollars to come up with a system that tracks sales of all items. Items that are taxed and shown sold at the POS will be taxed or must be challenged by the Liqour Agent. This is a database system that will change in scope to include all stores. Marxists are real people!! Fight back!


You are insane.


A far left socialist with nothing to say but an ad hominum attack. Eye roll.

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