Since the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) approved the distribution and sale of powdered alcohol — or Palcohol— during March of this year, state officials have been moving fast to ban production across the country.
Sen. Rick Jones R-Grand Ledge passed Senate Bill 240 this month banning not only the possession, but production and sale of Palcohol in Michigan — a measure 25 states have taken already with more states working to ban it.
Jones said his main concern is the safety of Michigan youth and banning Palcohol is an effective strategy for preventing harm to children, as he believes their marketing methods appeal to kids.
“Prohibiting powdered alcohol is the best way to protect our children from a product marketed with flavors like ‘lemon drop’ that appeal to kids.”
Sen. Rick Jones: “Prohibiting powdered alcohol is the best way to protect our children from a product marketed with flavors like ‘lemon drop’ that appeal to kids,” Jones said. “Powdered alcohol could be easily abused, even without a person’s knowledge.”
During Jones’ time spent as a sheriff, he witnessed the consequences of alcohol abuse. He is reminded of tragic losses due to alcohol poisoning and said he feels it will become worse if Palcohol makes its way into Michigan neighborhoods.
“I had 31 years in police work,” Jones said. “During those years, I saw a lot of people, particularly college-age people, die from alcohol poisoning. If used responsibly by adults, it’s not a problem, but we lose people from (alcohol poisoning) every year. Last year we lost a Michigan State student to alcohol poisoning.”
Jones consulted with many health officials and doctors whom he said also wanted the substance banned.
“When powdered alcohol was put out there by the media, I looked into it, and you can see they were promoting it on the Internet that it can be used in all different ways: eating it, drinking it, snorting it,” Jones said. “I talked with a number of doctors throughout the state that really wanted it banned too.”
Alcohol poisoning is one of the many reasons legislatures are moving to ban the product. Government officials in Maryland are concerned with individuals snorting the powder, while other legislatures are concerned with the product being used similarly to date rape drugs by unknowingly spiking others’ drinks.
The product has different alcohol volumes individuals might not be unaware of, which is one of the areas Jones expressed concern for.
“Drinking games are common across college campuses,” Jones said. “If your buddies dare you to drink a whole fifth, you’re aware of how much alcohol you are consuming and have the ability to stop. With this new substance you don’t realize how much you are consuming. By not having the substance readily available, it reduces risk.”
State legislatures are not making it easy for Palcohol to enter the market. The company has expressed their frustrations with the nationwide bans, citing reasons why the ban is unfavorable on their official website.
Mark Phillips, the creator of Palcohol, said on their website the negative preconceived notions of his product are the cause of communication errors between his company and the TTB. He claims the website was not ready for the public upon release of TTB’s approved labels for Palcohol — the website contained wording that was not finalized and discredited his product.
The company’s website suggests a ban will cost the government more money enforcing the law. Some suggest the lighter weight of powdered alcohol could save money for airline companies looking to cut down on fuel costs.
The website also claims Palcohol will not create easier access to alcohol for underage kids. They compare the prohibition of their product to the illegal distribution of marijuana. According to their website, Palcohol believes banning it will create easier access because it is easier for an underage individual to purchase marijuana than it is for an underage individual to buy alcohol in a liquor store.
Despite being FDA and TTB approved, legislatures intend to fight for the ban until powdered alcohol is prohibited across the country.