Utah lawmaker seeks to ban powdered alcohol
Associated Press 2:28 p.m. MST December 29, 2014
SALT LAKE CITY — A state lawmaker wants to make Utah the latest state to ban the sale of powdered alcohol before the product has a chance to win approval from a federal agency and possibly make its way to Utah liquor stores.
Powdered alcohol, an ounce of rum or vodka designed to be mixed with water or other nonalcoholic liquids, is touted as a lightweight way to mix drinks while traveling or backpacking.
Six states have already banned the product, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Several others, including Colorado, are considering bans.
Lipsmark LLC, the Tempe, Arizona-based company that owns Palcohol, says it's not expected to be in U.S. stores until spring. The product still needs a labeling approval from the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
"We're simply trying to get ahead of the curve," said Utah state Rep. Steve Eliason, a Sandy Republican who plans to run a bill banning the product during the upcoming legislative session.
Eliason said the product would be difficult to track because it's much more discreet than traditional liquid alcohol and could be combined with food.
Trying to control it and keep it out of the hands of kids would be "just a regulatory nightmare," Eliason said.
Lipsmark said no one with the company was available to talk on the phone to The Associated Press, but in an emailed statement, Palcohol creator Mark Phillips said a state ban is irresponsible because it will create a black market for the product.
"We know from experience that Prohibition doesn't work," Phillips said. "So the responsible action by a legislature should be to regulate it to keep it out of the hands of underage drinkers."
The product would be sold in liquor stores, and purchasers would need to show identification, Phillips said.
Eliason and others say they're concerned people may also try to snort the powder, which the company says would be painful and impractical, taking much longer to inhale a full packet than it would to mix it and drink.
The company plans to release the powder in two forms: one to be consumed, and another for industrial uses such as a fuel source.
The drinkable forms, sold in a pouch equivalent to a shot of alcohol, could allow campers, outdoor enthusiasts and airlines to prepare mixed drinks while carrying less weight, according to the company.
Besides a straight vodka and rum version, they plan to release ready-made cocktails such as a cosmopolitan, mojito, lemon drop and powderita, similar to a margarita.
If the product is approved by federal regulators, it would still need approval from Utah's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control before it could end up in state liquor stores.
Eliason hopes to head that off in the upcoming legislative session, which begins in January and runs through mid-March.