Groups Push Ban on Powdered Alcohol in Massachusetts and Beyond

Powdered alcohol? Yes, there is such a thing. And while the product is currently legal at the federal level, state associations are putting up resistance against its sale, noting the dangers to consumers.

Last year, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau gave the go-ahead for the future sale of powdered alcohol in the United States.

The ripple effects have been felt in states ever since—with associations taking a frontline role against a substance they see as dangerous.

Groups are working overtime in a battle against Palcohol, a powdered form of alcohol that Arizona entrepreneur Mark Phillips hopes to start selling later this year.

Phillips hopes to make powdered rum, vodka, and other liquors an option for consumers in America in much the same way it already is for those in Europe. He notes that the powders offer flexibility, because they can be added to mixers or even just to water.

Some critics, however, are concerned that people may use the powder to spike a drink, or even choose to snort it. (Then again, maybe not: Phillips says it burns when snorted.)

While Phillips says he’s in favor of regulating and taxing the substance, his critics are pushing for an outright ban. More details:

An industry’s push for responsibility. The Massachusetts Restaurant Association (MRA) has drawn a line in the sand: No powdered alcohol. “We go to great lengths to responsibly serve alcohol in our restaurants,” MRA President Bob Luz told the Boston Business Journal. “We just think there’s an inherent danger with powdered alcohol.” While the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission has already banned the sale of powdered alcohol in the state, The Boston Globe reports, MRA wants possession of the substance to be illegal as well. “With powdered alcohol, you’re talking about packages that could be the size of a sugar packet,” Luz told the Globe.

One successful effort. If MRA succeeds, it won’t be the first successful association effort against the product. In Maryland, industry groups worked with the state to get the powder banned. The Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association (MSLBA), the Maryland Beer Wholesalers Association, and the Licensed Beverage Distributors of Maryland each played a role in the push—first by enacting a voluntary ban before the state passed a law of its own. “Every tier of the alcohol beverage industry stands together on this,” MSLBA President David Marberger said of the industry’s ban.

A growing movement. A number of other states are also joining Maryland and Massachusetts groups in the battle. Alaska, Louisiana, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia have already banned the substance. And it’s on the radar of legislative bodies elsewhere, too. The National Conference of State Legislatures says that 77 bills in 39 states have been introduced so far this year.

Arizona entrepreneur Mark Phillips, in a video defending his powdered alcohol product. (YouTube screenshot)

Patrick deHahn

By Patrick deHahn

Patrick deHahn is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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