DENVER (AP) – Grappling with how to regulate powdered alcohol, Colorado lawmakers advanced legislation Tuesday to put the sale of the product on hold before it’s in stores.
While the product called Palcohol awaits federal approval, legislators, law enforcement and the service industry have already raised concerns about whether it will make it easier to sneak alcohol into schools, public events, or restaurants and bars.
The product comes in a pouch with powder to which water is added for the equivalent of a shot of vodka or rum.
RELATED STORIES: Powdered Alcohol Story Archive
A Senate committee voted 3-2 Tuesday to temporarily ban Palcohol until there’s a state regulatory system for it. The House has already approved the bill.
“What this really is is a temporary hiatus,” said Sen. Nancy Todd, an Aurora Democrat sponsoring the bill.
Lipsmark, the company that owns Palcohol, has said it doesn’t expect the product to be available until later this spring at the earliest. It’s still waiting for labeling approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
Product makers say the goal is convenience. They tout potential uses on flights, after long hikes and as an antiseptic in remote locations.
Lynne Barbour, director of communications for Palcohol, pointed to Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana as one reason lawmakers should be more understanding of regulating a new product. “You’d think, in Colorado of all places, where they have seen the success of legalizing marijuana, that there would be legislators who would want the same logical outcome for powdered alcohol,” she said.
“There is already a system in place” for Palcohol, Barbour continued. “Powdered alcohol is alcohol, and there are already rules on the books to regulate it.”
The full Senate now considers the proposal, and it faces skepticism from lawmakers who say it makes no sense to ban something that’s not sold yet.
“I think this is a little too knee-jerk. I don’t see this as striking the right balance,” said Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud. He also questioned why lawmakers should ban something like powdered alcohol while it’s OK now for people to use flasks to store liquor.
Alaska, Delaware, Louisiana, South Carolina and Vermont have banned powdered alcohol. On Tuesday, Wyoming rejected a ban on the product.
LINK: House Bill 1031
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