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States Move to Ban Powdered Alcohol Before It Hits the Market

Lawmakers in several states want to ban a new powdered alcohol product before it’s even available on the market.

“Palcohol” is the brand name for the new powdered alcohol that, when mixed with water, becomes a cosmopolitan, mojito, margarita or lemon drop cocktail. It’s the invention of Arizona entrepreneur Mark Phillips, whose company hopes to hit the market by spring.

Last spring, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, an arm of the U.S. Treasury Department, approved “Palcohol” and then rescinded its approval over labeling issues. Phillips’ company, called Lipsmark, hopes to overcome that hurdle shortly.

State bans may be harder to overcome. Powdered alcohol bans have been introduced in rapid order in states as varied as Colorado, Nebraska, Utah and Wisconsin. The actual number of states that may consider banning the product won’t be known until the deadlines for new bills are reached, but the early trend is clear.

Wisconsin State Sen. Tim Carpenter  (D-Milwaukee) introduced a bill that he thinks makes his state at least the ninth to actively consider a ban on “Palcohol” before it ever reaches consumers.

“The potential for abuse outweighs quite heavily the need for that type of product,” Carpenter said. “It would just make life a lot less complicated if we just didn’t go there.”

Phillips sees his mix-with-water instant cocktails as a “niche” product for adults who hike, bike, camp, kayak or climb rocks, and who would like to be able to pull a cocktail out of their kit bag at the end of the day but have not been able to do so because of the weight that is usually involved.

Ban bill sponsors, however, are expressing concerns about how the powdered alcohol product might be “snorted” or “sneaked into” venues closed to alcohol, possibly to the underaged. Phillips doubts that snorting powdered alcohol will ever catch on for two reasons: 1.) It hurts and burns to snort it, and 2.) It’s a slow method of inebriation as it would take a hour or more to snort one packet.

As for sneaking them into a closed venue, the “Palcohol” packages are larger than mini bottles used by airlines, which are also readily available at most liquor stores. Phillips has said he just wants his product “approved, taxed, and regulated” like the others.

But state legislatures from both major political parties are jumping on bills to ban powdered alcohol, mostly on the argument that the new product will increase underage drinking. A spokesman for the Colorado County Sheriffs Association has come out for a ban bill, saying that powdered alcohol “‘doesn’t have any place in our society.”

“Palcohol” will come in a “V” powder made from premium vodka and an “R” powder made from premium Puerto Rican rum. They can be used with both mixers and water. The calorie content will be 80 calories per packet, not counting whatever mixers might be added to it.

If it gains federal approval, the powdered alcohol product will be subject to all the same state laws that govern the sale and possession of hard booze in all its liquid forms.

Patents for powdered alcohol in the U.S. were first filed as early as 1960. Two similar products, Germany’s Subyou and Booz2Go from the Netherlands, are sold in Europe.

© Food Safety News
  • Joe Blow

    I commend the inventory for his ingenuity. However, he is out of touch with reality if he thinks this will not be abused. Does he really think any burning, when snorted, will prevent underage kids from partaking in this stuff? I also challenge him on the inebriation being slow when snorting. It’s a more direct line to get the alcohol into the blood versus ingesting through the stomach.

    My only question, what is the alcohol percent of the powder? My cursory research shows 50% alcohol in the powder. In that case…it really wouldn’t take a lot for a kid to snort to get their alcohol buzz going.

    Bad idea all around…

    • JM

      Have you ever had alcohol in your nose, Joe? It’s a terrible experience that I never want to recreate. When I was in college I hiccuped when I was drinking some low end vodka, and it shot out my nose. The result was one of the most painful burning sensations I’ve ever had. It’s something nobody will want to do again. This powder will be worse, because it will slowly dissolve, releasing alcohol over a long period of time. So the burn will be longer and more painful.

      There is more problem from some kid eating 4-5 packets of the powder in a short amount of time. But even then, kids can drink 4-5 small mini-bar bottles of alcohol in a short amount of time.

      This is just the normal knee-jerk reaction to a new product that has to do with alcohol. There is still a sizable portion of the population that has prohibitionist tendencies.

      • Ann Line

        Alcohol is America’s biggest social problem. We would all be better off without it. I don’t understand why being an alcoholic is such an important value to everyone.

        • MoodyFoodie

          The problem, as with many things, is excess. But especially when young, excess consumption seems to be the whole point for many. Enjoying a drink, even made from powder, doesn’t mean “being an alcoholic”. I’m sure you know that. Justified or not, it wouldn’t surprise me if the ban goes through, and yet those who want to abuse alcohol will go right on doing so.

        • MacFrannie

          By all means, lets go back to prohibition. That certainly cleared up any drinking problems and made everything better. I’m sure organized crime would love to see that happen. Labeling responsible drinkers as “alcoholics” with a broad brush is not conducive to a discussion. Rather, it makes it seem you have some personal issues with alcohol you need to resolve.

          • Ann Line

            Drinking alcohol is deeply embedded in society, I agree prohibition doesn’t make it go away. I was simply saying I don’t understand why drinking is so important ..it damages your body and negatively affects others who aren’t intoxicated. This new product is going to make a lot of money but will bring additional social issues on top of the ones we currently have surrounding alcohol. It’s an absolutely unnecessary product. no one NEEDS this product

          • John

            Well, let the free market decide if anyone NEEDS this product. It’s not government’s job to decide what people need or not, this is why citizens have freedom to choose – even the freedom to make bad decisions for themselves (alcoholics). If you want government to decide everything, move to China please.

          • MacFrannie

            It isn’t about NEED, we don’t NEED a lot of things we consume. We don’t need coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, etc. Not everyone who imbibes does so to excess; one drink does not equal intoxication. Contrary to your assertion, red wine has been scientifically demonstrated to be beneficial when taken in moderation. Further restricting access or variety of a legal product because some people cannot control themselves is ridiculous. It is your choice to drink or not drink, please don’t presume upon my choice to do the same.

            For the record, I rarely drink alcoholic beverages. primarily because of the calorie content, lest you think I’m a raving alcoholic. However, I would like to be able to partake of a beverage of my choice when I do imbibe, and that is usually a cocktail after a fun outdoor excursion; dried alcohol seems just the ticket to me. I’d very much like the option to have a Tang flavored cocktail on my next multi-day backpack excursion.

          • Jennifer Johns

            Ann, how does me having a glass of wine “negatively affect others”? After a single glass of wine I would not even be considered legally drunk. Not all people who consume alcohol do so to excess. A glass of wine or a beer with a meal does not make a person an alcoholic or even (in some cases) drunk. And your idea that “drinking alcohol is deeply embedded in society” is a little off. When you rank countries by alcohol consumption per capita the United States is 22nd, so there are 21 other countries who drink more than we do including France (1st), Germany (4th), Spain (7th), and the UK (15th).

        • Al key

          Not everyone who drinks alcohol is an alcoholic Saint Ann. And racism is America’s biggest social problem.

  • Ann Line

    There is no good reason to have a drink while out kayaking or hiking … but Kudos to Mark Phillips for creating a product that appeals to the masses.

    • Al key

      Ever heard of fun Ann?

  • MacFrannie

    I backpack, hike, kayak etc and I think it would be great to have the option to have a nice adult beverage after a days activities on an overnight or multi day trip. I think an outright ban is an overkill, knee jerk reaction. People who abuse substances are going to abuse them, regardless of the form they take.

  • Jorge

    Generally, banning technology isn’t effective. Just try to regulate it as best you can and live with it. Also, is is Pacohol or Palcohol?

  • Coltsneck

    Crazy to ban this product. Nothing is new but the packaging and format. Just another way for government to intrude in our lives to satisfy their personal values.

  • TonyandTricia Cruz

    Palcohol will be snorted just like methamphetamine and may even shoot it up in a syringe. Meth burns and the more burn the better they say it is. So if you think the burn of snorting this will stop from doing it, think again. It will get abused regardless. Retailers that have a conscience will not sell this, and I am one of them.