Liquor, cannabis, lottery: Are our vices essential services in face of COVID-19?

Mar 30, 2020, 4:17 pm (13 comments)

Oregon Lottery

In a series of executive orders, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has increasingly forced businesses to close their doors to slow the spread of COVID-19.

But there are three notable exceptions: Liquor, cannabis, and lottery tickets.

Why are our vices exempt?

Some other states have deemed liquor stores and cannabis shops "essential services," citing both an economic incentive to maintain tax revenues and concern that people with substance abuse disorders would seek urgent medical care while the system is overburdened.

That wasn't the case in Oregon though, Brown's spokesman, Charles Boyle, said.

"The businesses closed by the executive order were selected specifically because, from a public health perspective, those types of businesses cannot adequately implement social distancing practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — stores where customers sit or lie on furniture, for example, or pick up and examine individual pieces of jewelry," he said.

Other states have reported people panic-buying liquor, just like they've panic-bought toilet paper and cleaning supplies.

Though they have the numbers, Oregon officials won't say whether that's happened here.

"We would like to focus all the attention on our licensees and the plight they're in," said Matt Van Sickle, a spokesman for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

But both liquor and cannabis stores are reporting sales are up.

"Last week we saw a huge spike when people were panic buying," said Brett Moore, operations director for Homegrown Oregon, which has four cannabis shops in Oregon. "This week there's a decline as people are realizing they don't have to hoard things as much as they thought they did."

OLCC has made several temporary rule changes to help keep alcohol and cannabis sales strong despite business closures.

Now, liquor stores can offer curbside delivery, Van Sickle said.

So can distilleries, wineries, breweries, bars and restaurants if they hold "off-premise" sales licenses. And the agency is offering 90-day temporary offsite licenses to those who don't.

Same-day delivery hours also have been extended, from 9 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.

Although there has been some interest in allowing curbside pickup of mixed drinks, that's not on the table right now, Van Sickle said.

South Salem Liquor Mart has begun offering curbside pickup, but the store also is staying open to customers, manager Dillon Triance said. There now is a barrier keeping customers 6 feet from cashiers, and a direction for lines to go.

Southeast Salem's Liquor Outlet is the third-highest grossing liquor store in Oregon, meaning curbside pickup wouldn't work, said John Trussell, a manager there.

But the store is only letting in five customers at a time, making sure customers keep their distance, not allowing outside bags in the store, and sanitizing registers after each transaction. And it's shut down its growler-fill station, Trussell said.

OLCC also made temporary rule changes allowing curbside pickup for cannabis.

Homegrown Oregon began offering curbside pickup as soon as the rules were announced, Moore said. On Friday, it began encouraging all its customers to place orders online for curbside pickup.

Those who want to come inside still can, but they'll be separated from staff by a Plexiglas enclosure.

The Oregon Lottery, meanwhile, disabled video lottery machines on March 17. But it's still selling scratch-it and jackpot game tickets in retailers that remain open.

Some critics have expressed concerns about putting people at unnecessary risk of catching COVID-19 during face-to-face ticket sales. Others worry about transmission through the lottery's public touchscreen terminals.

"We suggest players take the same precautions they take when purchasing other goods," lottery spokesman Matt Shelby said.

Those include washing hands, avoiding touching faces and maintaining appropriate social distancing.

"Players can check their tickets for winners via the lottery app. Winners who would rather not interact directly with others may mail in their claims directly to lottery," he said.

Of course, the best place for lottery players to check their winning numbers is right on Lottery Post's Lottery Results page.

Players needing to search for a different lottery retailer in their area — perhaps one that has not closed its doors — can use the free Lottery Places app, available for Android, iPhone, and Windows.




Yes!  We need weed, beer, pills, and lottery right about now!

CDanaT's avatarCDanaT

" Panic-buying liquor"     Green laugh

cottoneyedjoe's avatarcottoneyedjoe

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a serious condition that can occur in some alcoholics when they try to quit cold turkey. There was an actor on True Blood, Nelsan Ellis, who died of heart failure trying to quit alcohol too abruptly. I know it's easy to scoff at alkies still getting their fix during all this lockdown, but if they're functional alcholics, the booze will keep them out of the hospital. A beer a day keeps the doctor away.


You're 100%.   DT's can be downright dangerous.   I remember one post-op heart (still intubated) had to have alcohol IV to stop his DT's.    OTOH, narc babies which I didn't have to work with would be in withdrawal(s) from their druggie Moms.   


Definitely not throwing my support for Oregon, but this is nothing short of a W** Dream.

Practising Social distancing by being at home: Fully loaded w/ your favorite alcohol, clouds filling the room, you with a  broad smile on your face as you glance at the single winning jackpot ticket for this week in your hand.


People often forget alcohol is considered by its nature a food product. And asking people to stay indoors not go out not go around people and then say not drink? You gotta be kidding. Good luck.

sully16's avatarsully16

Quote: Originally posted by CDanaT on Mar 30, 2020

" Panic-buying liquor"     Green laugh

Yep, Plus I got enough M & M's to last a life time. Cheers

Big Joey

Only the lottery is relevant is these times. Lottery tickets must be sold! Smiley

music*'s avatarmusic*

Have the churches, synagogues, and temples been forcibly closed? While these Vice stores are free to open.

Big Grin Angel


Quote: Originally posted by music* on Mar 30, 2020

Have the churches, synagogues, and temples been forcibly closed? While these Vice stores are free to open.

Big Grin Angel

Nice of you to ask music. Read that Osteen has heeded the warning & streamed his activities, but some religious pastors in Ohio & Loisiana did not. Said that it was their duty to shepherd the flock by them being present for service* think they had 1,800 in attendance for service.

These characters have a Messiah complex and need to be arrested. They are obviously unfamiliar with scripture, cause when Jesus got word that the religious leaders wanted to arrest him, he totally avoides that city.

Coin Toss's avatarCoin Toss


Perhaps the pastors who said it was their duty to shepherd the flock are more concerned with passing the collection plates than 'shepherding'.

Nikkicute's avatarNikkicute

Quote: Originally posted by Coin Toss on Mar 30, 2020


Perhaps the pastors who said it was their duty to shepherd the flock are more concerned with passing the collection plates than 'shepherding'.

AMEN!! lolBig Grin Angel Nothing stops that collection plate, nothing!!

Groppo's avatarGroppo

Quote: Originally posted by Big Joey on Mar 30, 2020

Only the lottery is relevant is these times. Lottery tickets must be sold! Smiley


Big Joey,

Yes, I agree. For the people who don't know where they'll end up.
They may as well play lotto, with the guidelines as outlined for one, by my signature below.

Covid2019 is nobody's fault, but is everybody's problem.
Mr. Groppo

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