Cheers to the End of Prohibition, and Some Little Known Facts About Oregon's Alcohol History
by Joy Spencer
|Illegal Moonshine Still near Skyline in Portland, Oregon|
In January 1920, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution went into effect making the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol illegal nationally.
But, many years before that - even before Oregon was a state, ‘Oregonians’ tried to control the manufacture and sale of liquor.
In June of 1844, Oregon's provisional government enacted a prohibition law designed to “prevent the introduction, sale and distillation of ardent spirits in Oregon.” This law remained in effect until September of 1849, when the territorial legislature repealed it.
Rather than total prohibition, Oregon passed various laws in the following decades designed to regulate liquor sales. These acts tended to specify certain licensing criteria for the selling of liquor, and in some cases banned the sale of alcohol in areas near construction projects and churches, or to minors and the intoxicated.
In November of 1887 Oregon voters defeated a proposed amendment to the state constitution to institute state-wide prohibition. Saloons were by law allowed to operate in Oregon by a measure approved by the voters in November 1889.
On June 6, 1904 Oregon voters approved the local option act. This law established that a successful county-wide vote for prohibition would make each precinct in the county subject to the ban on alcohol. In 1905 the Legislative Assembly enacted statutes that enabled the implementation of the local option law. That same year the city of Hood River enacted prohibition by local option election. Subsequent challenges to the local option law during the years 1905-1907 resulted in local option being upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court. During the following years, various counties and cities enacted prohibition via use of the local option.
On November 3, 1914, five years prior to national prohibition, the voters of Oregon passed an amendment to the state constitution prohibiting the manufacture, sale or advertisement of intoxicating liquor (see related proclamation above left). In 1915 the Legislative Assembly, via the Anderson Act, enacted legislation implementing statewide prohibition. The law became effective on January 1, 1916. Less than a year later, in November of 1916, the state's voters defeated a proposed state constitutional amendment to permit the sale of beer. In 1917 the Oregon Supreme Court upheld prohibition in a challenge to the new law's constitutionality.
The 18th Amendment to the US Constitution went into effect in January 1920, making the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol illegal nationally.
In both 1925 and 1931 the Oregon Legislative Assembly refused to pass bills that would have sent to the voters a call to reconsider statewide prohibition.
In the summer of 1933, the voters repealed Oregon's constitutional prohibition amendment, and shortly thereafter Oregon ratified the 21st amendment to the U.S. Constitution, repealing national prohibition.
Almost immediately following the repeal of national prohibition, Governor Julius Meier began efforts that, by the end of the year resulted in the formation of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, or OLCC, which continues to promote the public interest through the responsible sales and service of alcoholic beverages.