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Tennessee moves to ban powdered alcohol

March 23, 2015

Have you ever heard of such a thing as powdered alcohol? If you’re like most people, the concept may sound completely foreign to you – and that’s absolutely understandable. A federal agency, just a few days ago, approved powdered alcohol for sale in the US, with a company that’s branding it “Palcohol” leading the way.

Palcohol, which can be sold in discrete packets and then added to water later on to create a sort of cocktail, is gaining popularity, but the Tennessee state government is one early opponent of the movement.

One of the biggest selling points of its proponents is that the powdered alcohol can be easily transported by a consumer, which is consequently the main reason those on the other side of the argument are against it. Opponents say that the portability of the Palcohol is what makes it so dangerous, because young people will easily be able to sneak it into events like music festivals, for example. More-so than just the threat of underage drinking, though, is the fact that this product could quickly become dangerous as it can be difficult to determine how much is consumed. Because consumers might not be immediately aware of the ratios of powdered alcohol to water or other liquid that should be mixed, it is understandable that there is concern that they could quickly drink more than they intend and end up in trouble. Alcohol poisoning, of course, is serious and takes a number of lives in the United States year after year.

Now, the Tennessee senate has introduced Bill 374, sponsored and championed by Sen. Bill Ketron, which would make it a misdemeanor offense for any person or business to sell the powdered alcohol.

On the other side of the fence, sellers and proponents say that the powdered substance is no more dangerous than its liquid equivalent, and that sellers are currently adhering to any relevant alcohol and liquor laws in the state; just like anyone else trying to purchase goods from a liquor store, those trying to purchase powdered alcohol are ID’d, must be 21 to buy, and only licensed dealers are allowed to carry the product in the first place.

Even so, it’s not entirely farfetched to see how sneaking a small packet of powder into a venue – which could then be added to a beverage legally purchased inside – could be easier than trying to bring your own bottle or flask in.

Other concerns about the product include licensing for bars and night clubs, where the product is not yet sold. There’s also the issue of how much people will decide to combine the Palcohol with other drugs, and whether adverse and unexpected side effects of such combinations could put lives at risk.

While the bill will be heard by a Tennessee house subcommittee next Wednesday before a decision is made, the state will be far from the first to take action; already, thirteen states have passed and enacted bans similar to or identical to the one proposed in Tennessee.