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Powdered Alcohol Gains Approval, But Also Bans


Last month, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved labels for Palcohol, which allows the product to be sold in the United States. Palcohol is a powdered alcohol product developed by Lipsmark LLC.  The powder can be mixed with water or another mixer, and would have the same alcohol content as its liquid counterparts. Varieties will include rum, vodka, Cosmopolitan, Lemon Drop and “Powderita”.  The product would come in a foil package which could be used in lieu of a glass.

States Take a Stand

Though the product will not be available until at least this summer, many lawmakers are already taking action.  The sale of alcohol is regulated on the state level, which means that each state decides whether an alcohol product can be sold and how or where it can be sold. Several states have already banned the sale of powdered alcohol by statute, including Virginia, Vermont, Utah, South Carolina, Alaska and Louisiana.  Many more states are now in the process of enacting bans on the sale of powdered alcohol.  Some states have amended the definitions of their standing alcohol laws to include powdered alcohol so that it can be regulated.

Maryland Moving Quickly Towards Ban

One of the most recent states to take action is Maryland. The House of Delegates and Senate, on April sixth and seventh, respectively, passed legislation which will ban powdered alcohol.  The ban passed by the House would be for thirteen months, from June 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016.  The ban passed by the Senate would be for two years.  The House and Senate will need to agree on a length of time for the ban before it can become law.  Alcohol distributors and wholesalers in Maryland had already agreed to a voluntary ban on the sale of powdered alcohol in the state.

What Does Congress Say?

Federal legislation has also been introduced which would ban the production, sale and possession of powdered alcohol. The federal legislation is called the Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Reauthorization (STOP) Act, and the provision banning powdered alcohol was introduced by New York Senator Chuck Schumer.

Why Ban Palcohol?

Those in favor of banning powdered alcohol cite to several concerns about the product.  The most prominent of these concerns seems to be use of the product by underage drinkers. Opponents have likened the product to Kool-Aid and suggested that the powder form would make it easier to conceal the alcohol from adults.  It is being compared to powdered caffeine and the product Four Loko, which also faced bans.  Other concerns include fears that powdered alcohol could be used to spike drinks of unsuspecting victims and that there is potential for misuse of the product such as snorting it.   Lipsmark responds to many of these concerns, and others, on its website and contends that powdered alcohol has many potential uses which could actually be beneficial.  These include uses in hospitality, aviation, medicine, manufacturing and energy. The company also points out that since Palcohol is not yet on the market that there are many potential uses which have not yet been realized.