Powdered Alcohol Offers Convenience, Stirs Controversy

The federal government just legalized the sale of the new product -- great news for backpackers who want a nightcap -- but some states are already moving to ban it.

Powdered Alcohol Offers Convenience, Stirs Controversy Photo (cc) by quinn.anya

The federal government has approved the sale of Palcohol, a powdered form of alcohol. But some states are working to ban the product before it hits their stores.

The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau recently gave Palcohol the green light, approving four varieties of the powder, which is designed to be mixed with water, to be sold in the United States, The Associated Press reports.

On the Palcohol website, company founder Mark Phillips said he created the product because he enjoys outdoor activities, like hiking and kayaking, where it can be challenging to pack bottles of alcohol.

“Since powder is light and compact, it wouldn’t be a burden to carry,” the website explains.

Palcohol is giving some states a bitter taste. South Carolina, Louisiana and Vermont have laws banning powdered alcohol. Legislators in several other states, including Colorado, Ohio, Mississippi, Virginia, North Dakota, New Jersey and Washington, are now scrambling to follow suit, The Wall Street Journal said.

The product would need to get approval from state alcohol boards to be sold in 17 beverage control states such as Oregon and Virginia. Pennsylvania already issued a ruling saying it couldn’t be sold by its control board, according to the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association.

The powdered alcohol comes in individual packets, each one designed to be mixed with 6 ounces of water. The four approved varieties are vodka, rum and powdered versions of a margarita and cosmopolitan, the AP said.

Forbes contributor Dr. Robert Glatter said “there appears to be no good reason for either [Palcohol] or the potential industry to support it.”

Opponents of Palcohol argue that the product’s compactness makes it easy to transport and conceal, so it can be sneaked in to places where alcohol is prohibited. Other concerns about the product being snorted and more easily abused by underage drinkers have also been raised.

The Palcohol website argues that “banning Palcohol is immoral, irresponsible and hypocritical.” Phillips said powdered and liquid alcohol share the same risks, so banning Palcohol is unfair.

Palcohol will be sold wherever liquid alcohol is sold. It’s expected to hit shelves by summer.

What do you think of powdered alcohol being sold in the U.S.? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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