The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission is banning agency employees from setting aside hard-to-find liquor for their own purchase.
This move follows the fallout earlier this year when senior leaders lost their jobs following a report that showed they got special access to rare bourbons.
Here are more details from an OLCC announcement:
The Board of Commissioners of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) today approved a policy restricting agency employee access to rare and hard-to-find liquor products. During its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, May 18, 2023, the Board also heard more public testimony on a proposal to increase the per-bottle cost of liquor.
In addition, the Commissioners took action on two administrative violation cases, provided beer, wine and cider manufacturers a break on privilege tax penalties, selected a new small business operator for a liquor store on the central coast, and approved stipulated settlements affecting alcohol and recreational marijuana licensees.
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In the wake of the disclosure over former OLCC employees gaining preferred access to manufacturer allocated distilled spirits (e.g. Pappy Van Winkle’s), the agency is creating a series of new policies that clearly spell out how rare and hard-to-find products will be distributed.
The first policy applies to OLCC employees and specifies that employees are not allowed to set aside liquor for their own purchase. Additional policies are being developed to address how manufacturer allocated products could be provided to non-profits and charities, and how rare and hard-to-find products should be sold to consumers once they reach retailers.
In considering an increase to the price of individual bottles of liquor, Commissioners said they must strike a balance between fostering responsible access to and consumption of alcohol through the controlled sale of liquor, and supporting Oregon businesses that produce and serve distilled spirits to consumers.
Both the public health and hospitality industries weighed in on the 50-cent surcharge proposed for bottles of liquor sold at Oregon retailers. The feedback comes ahead of a vote on the proposal, slated for the board’s meeting next month. If approved the surcharge is projected to raise an additional $45 million during the 2023-2025 biennium (or about $22.5 million per fiscal year), that will go to the state’s general fund.
“We are a very [substance] abusive state,” said OLCC Chair Marvin Révoal. “As we move forward your comments will be well received and accepted. We are not trying to convince one another as to what to do. We’re going to continue this [public] process because it’s very important.”