The sale of crystalline powdered alcohol, which is used to make mixed drinks by just adding water, is now illegal in Tennessee.
The General Assembly voted overwhelmingly earlier this year to outlaw the product, which goes commercially by the name “Palcohol.” The product has won federal approval for sale but isn’t yet on the market. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is so far taking a wait-and-see approach to determine if federal regulation appears warranted. But at least one powerful veteran U.S. lawmaker, New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, wants Palcohol banned nationwide because he thinks it “creates an immense danger to teens and others.”
Tennessee’s Senate Bill 374 passed 92-0 in the 99-member House, and 31-1 in the Senate. Gov. Bill Haslam signed the bill into law on April 28, and it became effective May 1.
Republican sponsors Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro and Rep. Sheila Butt of Columbia sponsored the measure to outlaw Palcohol. They argued that it makes better sense to ban it first and potentially ask questions about how the government might ease it into circulation with regulatory controls later. They claimed the ban was the only alternative to entirely unrestricted sales across the state because the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Commission only has authority to regulate “beverages” not powders.
Palcohol’s creator, Mark Phillips of Tempe, Ariz, has said he developed the product line, which he claims is “safer than liquid alcohol,” in order to provide outdoor recreationists a light and packable means of carrying adult beverage mixers. The controversy and consternation over Palcohol is misguided, he argues. His company, Lipsmark LLC, is expecting to start selling Palcohol in states where it isn’t illegal beginning this summer.
According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, powdered alcohol has been banned in Alaska, Indiana, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont and Virginia. Washington’s governor signed a ban into law Thursday. And Minnesota has a temporary ban in place.
On the other hand, Colorado, Delaware, Michigan and New Mexico have all passed laws to allow the regulation of sales of Palcohol within their borders.
Additionally, an attempt to ban Palcohol look unlikely to pass in Texas this year. Arizona’s Legislature passed a measure banning Palcohol but Republical Gov. Dough Ducey vetoed it, saying “there does not appear to be evidence that this bill is necessary.”
In Tennessee, violation of the law against selling Palcohol will be a Class A misdemeanor — punishable by less than a year in jail and a fine up to $2,500. State alcohol regulators also have authority to suspend or revoke any alcohol sale permits held by those found in violation.
Alex Harris can be contacted at Alex@TNReport.com.