In March 2015, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) approved production and sale of Palcohol, an aptly named powdered version of alcohol. Despite the federal approval, some state lawmakers seem to disagree with the product’s new legal standing. Even ahead of the TTB approval, Alaska, Delaware, Louisiana, South Carolina and Vermont had already banned powdered alcohol. And within days of the approval announcement, other states, including Connecticut, New York and Florida, among others, had enacted legislation that could ban the product.
A potentially dangerous product
Palcohol will be sold in pouches as powdered versions of popular alcoholic drinks. To use, consumers simply mix the powder with liquid and drink. This simplified stir-and-sip concept has been compared to products like Kool-Aid and Country Time Lemonade, which for some lawmakers is a major part of the problem.
New York Senator Charles Schumer is one of the most vocal opponents of the Palcohol concept, calling it “dangerous,” and citing the potential for abuse, particularly among teens and young adults. “I am in total disbelief that our federal government has approved such an obviously dangerous product, and so, Congress must take matters into its own hands and make powdered alcohol illegal,” he said in a press release this March. “Underage alcohol abuse is a growing epidemic with tragic consequences and powdered alcohol could exacerbate this.”
California group calls for emergency ban on Palcohol
Alcohol Justice, a California-based nonprofit advocacy group, echoed Senator Schumer’s sentiment. In its own press release, the group called for an emergency ban of Palcohol and other powdered alcoholic products in the state of California, which to date has not made any legislative moves regarding the issue. Like Schumer, Michael Scippa, the group’s Director of Public Affairs, stressed that Palcohol carries a high potential for underage substance abuse. “Every year we lose nearly 10,000 lives and over $22 billion dollars to alcohol-related harm. Palcohol and other powdered or crystalline alcohol products will bring huge dangers to young people in California.”
Despite warnings, company presses ahead
While advocates and lawmakers continue to voice real concern with Palcohol – so far 28 states have introduced some form of legislation surrounding the production and/or sale of powdered alcohol – Lipsmark, the company behind the product, continues to defend it, reminding critics that Palcohol will only be sold to those 21 and older. Lipsmark plans to sell Palcohol at the consumer level later this year.
When experimentation turns into substance abuse
It’s easy to see how a product like Palcohol could be appealing to young people: It’s small and concealable, and easy to transport and apply. But it’s also blatant that such appeal can carry serious consequences. Binge drinking, excessive consumption and the major health risks that come with them (not the least of which is death), are very real dangers of this controversial product.
While the legality of Palcohol remains to be seen in states across the country, it has at least sparked important conversations about alcohol and substance abuse. If you are struggling with a drinking problem, or need help for a loved one battling their own substance abuse issues, The Watershed is here. Call us 24/7: 1-800-861-1768.Tags: alcohol leads to alcoholism, FDA, palcohol, powdered alcohol