Solar Eclipse In Oregon Spikes Demand For Pot, Alcohol

By Kelly Burch 07/28/17

About a million tourists are expected to be on-hand to witness the natural phenomenon. 

A woman viewing a solar eclipse wearing UV protective glasses

Liquor and marijuana sellers in Oregon are stocking up on product to prepare for a solar eclipse on August 21 which is expected to bring more than one million tourists into the state and increase demand for alcohol and marijuana by up to 40%. 

The eclipse will be visible across the country, but a total solar eclipse will only be seen in certain places, including some areas of Oregon. Because of that, tourists are expected to flood into the state from as far away as China and Brazil. 

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), which controls alcohol distribution in the state, is urging stores to stock up early, according to a report by KGW Portland. Many trucks are leaving the state’s only distribution facility carrying double their normal amount of alcohol. 

"Transportation could be a major obstacle," said Brian Flemming of the OLCC. "Madras for example, there could be 30,000-40,000 people estimated so we saw a logistical nightmare to get trucks into the city.”

Many areas of the state that are expected to draw tourists, including on the coast and the central state, are relatively rural and have few liquor stores. Some liquor store owners are planning to camp behind their stores in order to accept deliveries in the middle of the night, Flemming said. 

The OLCC is trying to anticipate tourists’ movements in order to ensure that they have access to booze when they want it. Because the state controls liquor distribution in Oregon, the potential boom in sales could have a big impact on the state’s budget, increasing funds for schools and state police. 

"We're actually looking to move things 3 to 5 days in advance because we know, people aren't going to drive over Monday, they'll probably head over Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday," said Flemming.

The OLCC is also trying to stock up on liquor that will be in demand from foreign tour groups coming to the area. Marijuana shops in the state, which allows recreational use of the drug, are also preparing for an influx of new customers. 

"I think events like this overcome that stigma because we get to talk to more people and provide that education that is really needed," said Leigha Christensen of Oregon's Finest, a cannabis shop that is expecting sales to double or even triple during the eclipse. 

To prepare, the shop is ordering 25% more product and is coordinating some of the packaging to appeal to the star-gazing crowd. 

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix
Kelly Burch Contrib.jpg

Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.