The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission — yeah, they changed the name a few years ago — sent out a press release last week to report troubling results of what they refer to as a “minor decoy operation.”

The OLCC inspectors resumed these checks on alcohol retailers after it had been halted during the pandemic. In short, they spread out across the state to see if OLCC license holders are allowing those under 21 to purchase alcohol.

According to the agency, two out of three retailers failed to properly check identification and sold alcohol to an OLCC minor decoy. The combined compliance rate in Eugene was 35%.

“The state has never seen these kinds of terrible results in alcohol sales compliance checks since the program was initiated in the 1990s,” said Steve Marks, OLCC executive director. “Every licensee that engages in the sale of alcohol needs to immediately place a priority on the proper training of servers and store clerks.”

The OLCC performed five regional operations across the state checking compliance at 64 locations selling alcohol. Two operations in Portland produced compliance rates of 70% and 85% and a single operation in the Salem region resulted in a compliance rate of 88%, which was the best result as of last week.

Statewide, the compliance rate was 63%, well below the OLCC’s target objective of 90% or more.

In addition, inspectors from the OLCC’s marijuana program are also ramping up activity, and recently completed an operation in the Medford region that resulted in a 67% compliance rate.

The OLCC’s compliance division started phasing in the minor decoy operation activity in May gradually expanding the effort as the agency recruited and trained new minor decoys. Instead of using volunteers as had been done in the past, the agency now employs minors between 18 to 20 years old, who look under the age of 26, to carry out the activity supervised by OLCC inspectors.

If a clerk or server makes a sale, they as well as the licensee are subject to fines and penalties for the violation.

Because of the high rate of noncompliance, the OLCC now plans to aggressively conduct compliance operations across the state to ensure that those selling alcohol are playing by the rules.

Marks in a press release said that the industry gained expanded privileges to sell and deliver alcohol in recent years. Along with those expanded privileges came an expectation that compliance would be taken seriously.”

The statewide compliance rate as it currently stands is abysmal,” Marks said. “These results are fully unacceptable and be assured that OLCC understands its profound responsibility to Oregonians to ensure sales of alcohol are made properly. We will take action.”

If you’re interested, follow this link to find results of the minor decoy operations, including what businesses were and were not in compliance.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.