In Oregon, having a pinot gris or a potent indica delivered to your door is as simple as a few taps on the iPhone. But try to get a bottle of Irish whiskey without leaving the house and you're probably out of luck.
Under the state's highly regulated liquor distribution system, home deliveries are out of the question. State Rep. Margaret Doherty says that's an outmoded policy.
“Here in Oregon it is legal to deliver marijuana to your home, but you can’t deliver hard liquor,” said Doherty, a Democrat from Tigard.
This session, she's pushing a bill that would change that. Under House Bill 2523, the state would have the ability to license for-hire delivery services to spirit spirits from the liquor store to your doorstep. These cognac couriers would be required to confirm purchasers are at least 21 and not intoxicated before handing over the goods, and to allow the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to inspect records of deliveries.
Doherty sees the move as a way for liquor stores to reach more consumers.
“In this day and age when we have everything delivered to our houses, I think it’s a tool that OLCC agents can use to market their products,” she said.
The idea was raised by elderly residents of Doherty’s district, who saw a glaring disconnect between the ever-growing list of things they could have delivered to their door — meals from their favorite restaurants, groceries from a nearby supermarket — and the continued inability to have liquor delivered. Doherty says the bill applies just as well to younger consumers, accustomed to deliveries in the age of courier services like Caviar and Postmates.
Questions remain: What kind of training delivery service employees would be required to undergo? What type of vehicles would be eligible for delivering liquor? Would those vehicles have to store bottles in a lockbox? Those and other questions would likely be answered during an OLCC rule-making process if the bill passes, Doherty said.
So far, HB 2523 hasn’t seen vocal opposition. The OLCC has a neutral stance on the bill, and the Oregon Beer and Wine Distributors Association supports the measure, though its members’ products are already eligible for home delivery.
“This may be an opportunity to look at the way we do home shipments or home deliveries of beer and wine as well,” Michael Freese, a lobbyist for the group, testified at a hearing on the bill. “While this bill doesn’t address that … it’s certainly something that we want to explore and work with the OLCC and see if this really is an opportunity to have some consistency across the industry.”
Oregon Recovers, a statewide coalition focused on substance abuse, does not have a position on the bill, according to Director Mike Marshall.
“We are not opposed to anyone drinking responsibly,” Marshall said in an email. “But given alcohol kills five people each day and Oregon has the 4th highest addiction rate in the country, increasing access to alcohol — and the likely increase in consumption that will follow — does not seem like the best use of the Legislature’s valuable time."