Business and Economics

Powdered Alcohol Prompts Senator To Respond With Bill

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January 26, 2015 — TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS — A new alcohol product is raising concerns among legislators about safety.

Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, has proposed a bill that would make powdered or crystalline alcohol – including a product soon to be marketed under the name Palcohol – illegal for consumers in Indiana.

Alting said constituents from “around the state, not just locally” have contacted him about the product, asking for regulations.

“They’ve read how it’s sweeping around the state, particularly in classrooms,” Alting said. “You know, bringing it in a bottled water or a closed container. We want to put a lid on it.”

Currently, Indiana has no regulations specifically about powdered alcohol, but Senate Bill 6 would establish possessing, selling or using it as a Class B infraction.

Palcohol was created by Mark Phillips and comes in six different flavors of alcohol including vodka, rum and versions of different cocktail drinks including Cosmopolitan, Mojito, Lemon Drop, and Margarita.

In April 2014, the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved labels for Palcohol. Two weeks later, the agency claimed the labels to have been “issued in error,” leaving the company unable to currently sell the product.

All packages include the same alcoholic content when mixed individually with 5 ounces of liquid, approximately the equivalent of a “standard” drink, which contains about 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of “pure” alcohol.

While the same rules apply for individuals under the age of 21, the federal officials and others seem to be wary of this new form of drinking.

Lisa Hutcheson, director of the Indiana Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking, said she is concerned about the way the drug will be used in an “unintended way.”

“Like snorting or injecting to get drunk faster, and we have a lot of questions about it,” Hutcheson said. “I think the risks are real and I think it’s just ridiculous to think that someone’s just going to mix the pack in water and that’s going to be the end of it. That’s not what’s going to happen.”

Brandon Thomas, a spokesperson for the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, said that no arrests regarding powdered alcohol beverages have been reported.

“However, even though it is in powder form, it is still defined an alcoholic beverage by state statute,” Thomas said. “Therefore, it is illegal to consume or possess by a minor or transport it by a minor unless they are with a parent or legal guardian.”

Patrick Tamm, CEO of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, said he believes that Alting’s measures are a “step in the right direction.”

“We think it’s good public policy what Sen. Alting has introduced. Powdered alcohol, while not fully on the market, is something that multiple states have taken proactive measures on,” Tamm said.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 10 states have already created statutes pertaining to powdered alcohol, including Alaska, Delaware, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and South Carolina.

Colorado is considering prohibiting powdered alcohol amid the concern that it will increase underage drinking. Palcohol is expected to be for sale in the spring of 2015.

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