In my column this week, I examined a recent statewide OLCC spot check on dispensaries, wherein an actual minor, with a real ID (and using nothing disguising such as a fake beard), attempted to enter to make a cannabis purchase. Compliance rates varied tremendously, from 100% in Central Oregon (yay!), to 43% in Portland (boo!).

With my column being 700 words, there wasn't room to do a comparison between this round of spot checks, and the numbers for the same type of spot check performed at everyone's favorite state-run booze barns.

Before I had a chance to even begin to dig into the results of these spot checks, Russ Belville beat me to it, and compiled a great list. Thanks, Russ!

As he figures, the average compliance rate from the most recent dispensary checks was 81 percent. He then compared that to the results from the last six liquor store spot checks, and the compliance rate was... 78 percent.

Belville must have partaken of some spreadsheet-friendly sativa next, because he gathered all the OLCC liquor store compliance checks for 2017, to determine "the rate at which booze shops in Oregon successfully checked underage volunteers for ID." Here are his results:

Dec 2017 = 77%
November 2017 = 84 percent (Better than cannabis' rate)
October 2017 = 73 percent
September 2017 = 76 percent
August 2017 = 75 percent
July 2017 = 81 percent (Same as cannabis' rate)
June 2017 = n/a (No checks performed)
May 2017 = 75 percent
April 2017 = 80 percent
March 2017 = 80 percent
February 2017 = 79 percent
January 2017 = 79 percent
He writes: "With the exception of the month of November 2017, legal marijuana was harder (or as hard) for kids to get than legal alcohol, every month last year." The numbers can get dizzying after that, as he delves into compliance rates for the past four years. His final takeaway?
"The total number of compliance checks conducted annually has declined from 1,395 & 1,092 in 2014 & 2015 (respectively) all the way down to 651 & 692 in 2016 & 2017. That means, on a biennial basis, we're only conducting 54% as many alcohol compliance checks as we did the prior biennium and the compliance rate has dipped from 81% to 79%. Marijuana retailers are better than alcohol retailers at carding kids; alcohol retailers are getting worse at carding kids; and OLCC is doing almost half as many alcohol compliance checks as they used to..."
I'm sure there are those who would disagree, but if minors are going to gain access to alcohol or cannabis, I would vastly prefer it be cannabis. (I would prefer they not have access to either, but I'm a realist in this case.) So when prohibitionist voices begin screaming about the dispensary compliance rates, feel free to share the news that well, actually, dispensaries are doing better than liquor stores. But both could, and should, do better.