Alcohol Beverages: Powered Problems

States move to ban new form of alcohol before it can hit shelves

Want to sell powdered alcohol? Chances are you won’t be able to. Powdered alcohol, also known as Palcohol, has, as of press time, been banned in more than 20 states despite being declared legal to be sold in the United States by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Owned by Tempe-Ariz.-based Lipsmark LLC, Palcohol was created by Mark Phillips as a way to enjoy an adult beverage during activities such as kayaking, hiking and camping, when carrying a bottle of liquid alcohol can be cumbersome. One package of the gluten-free product weighs about an ounce and is equal to a standard mixed drink when combined with 6 ounces of liquid.

But safety concerns seem to outweigh the opportunities. A large number of states are taking steps to ban (or have already banned) the product, citing potential misuse by minors and the ability to sneak the product into venues where it is prohibited.

Indiana, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Oregon and Washington are among the more than 20 states that have banned powdered alcohol outright, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Two states—Maryland and Minnesota—have opted for temporary one-year statutory bans.

A proposed ban that reached the Arizona governor’s desk, however, was shot down. Gov. Doug Ducey vetoed it, saying he doesn’t see a need for such legislation.

“At this time, there does not appear to be evidence that this bill is necessary,” Ducey wrote in his veto letter. “I have instructed the director of the Department of Liquor Licenses and Control to review administrative rules to ensure that powdered alcohol is regulated to the same extent as other spirituous beverages.”

However, it seems most Americans would disagree with Ducey. According to a recent study by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, 60% of U.S. adults say powdered alcohol should be banned. Eighty-four percent of those surveyed also support prohibiting online sales of the product.

Respondents to the study were concerned the product would wind up in the wrong hands, with 90% saying they were worried powdered alcohol would be misused by those younger than 21 and 81% worried it will be easy for minors to buy the product. A statement on Palcohol’s website rebuts these claims.

“While the intentions by legislators to ban powdered alcohol is to keep it out of the hands of underage drinkers, a ban will actually make it easier for kids to get a hold of it,” the statement reads. “A ban heightens demand for the product.”

While accessibility to minors is a top concern, critics also say alcohol in powdered form is too easy to sneak into alcohol-free venues and could be dangerous if snorted—claims also disputed in the online statement, which made its case that alcohol is more dangerous in a liquid form.

“Liquid alcohol is a bigger threat to public health than Palcohol will ever be. Liquid alcohol is easier to conceal, easier to spike drinks and easier to use to binge drink,” the statement reads.

Palcohol is expected to be available for purchase online and in stores this summer (in states that allow it), according to the company’s website. It will be available in five varieties: Vodka, Rum, Cosmopolitan, Powderita (similar to a margarita) and Lemon Drop.