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Oregon’s wineries are asking legislators to allow larger shipments direct to customers.

Oregon has legalized recreational marijuana, possession of illegal drugs for personal use and sports betting, but shipping more than two cases of wine a month to a customer is still beyond the pale?

Yes, under Oregon law, but a bill in the legislature rightly seeks to increase that limit.

The Oregon wine industry is a $3 billion business. A highly regulated business. For more than 30 years the state’s direct-to-consumer law has limited wineries to shipping only two cases of wine a month to any individual customer.

The state’s limit puts Oregon wineries at a competitive disadvantage to peers throughout the West Coast. Washington and California do not restrict the number of cases shipped direct-to-consumer.

The state’s wine industry is calling on lawmakers to pass Senate Bill 406, which would allow them to ship five cases of wine per resident a month.

Most of the state’s 725 wineries are too small to work through distributors, which would put their products into retail outlets. They depend on in-person tastings to whet onsite sales and direct-to-consumer wine clubs.

Thousands of visitors who’d usually buy their cases on-site are no longer traveling to wineries due to coronavirus restrictions, said Maria Ponzi, president of Ponzi Vineyards in Sherwood, Ore.

“This DTC channel has been a lifeline,” but the existing law has created barriers, she said.

The industry is only asking to bump the restriction up to five cases. Retailers don’t restrict the quantity that legal consumers can buy in a month. We suspect the current limit only protects the retailers and distributors, so we don’t see the need for any restriction,

But, if the industry is happy with five cases, so are we.

Oregon has loosened restrictions on other vices, it seems only fair that it brings regulation of the wine industry into the 21st Century.

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