Wisconsin Legislators Want Powdered Alcohol Regulated the Same as Liquid Alcohol

By CARA LOMBARDO | February 23, 2017

Two Democratic state lawmakers have backed away from banning powdered alcohol and instead want to subject it to the same regulations as liquid alcohol.

Sen. Tim Carpenter and Rep. Debra Kolste introduced a bill Monday to expand the state’s definition of alcohol to include powdered forms. A bill they introduced in 2015 to ban the sale of the substance in Wisconsin failed to win key Republican support. Given that half of the states have already banned it, it’s unlikely to be sold on a large scale anytime soon.

But Carpenter and Kolste said they want to ensure powdered alcohol is covered by the same rules that applied to sale and consumption of liquid alcohol should it arrive in Wisconsin. They say it poses additional risks because it can be snorted or ingested and the compact packets are easy to hide.

“We have enough problems with drinking in our state,” Carpenter said.

The federal government approved a powdered alcohol product called Palcohol in 2015. Palcohol comes in the form of freeze-dried alcohols and cocktails meant to be mixed with liquid. Since then, states have been scrambling to ban or regulate the products before they hit shelves. At least 25 states – including neighboring Michigan, Illinois and Indiana – had banned the sale of powdered alcohol as of 2015, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Palcohol spokeswoman Lynne Barbour said the company supports regulating powdered alcohol the same as liquid alcohol but rejects the idea it is any more dangerous.

“They’re both just alcohol,” she said.

Palcohol is not currently sold anywhere in the United States. While Palcohol’s website says the product could be on sale as soon as this summer, Barbour declined to comment on timing.

“Palcohol WILL come to Wisconsin,” she said. “The prudent action would be to regulate it so kids can’t get a hold of it.”

The bill proposed by Carpenter and Kolste includes regulatory exceptions for the use of powdered alcohol by hospitals or for scientific research. Two Republicans, Rep. Ed Brooks and Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, have already signed onto the measure. Republican Sen. Leah Vukmir, who Carpenter said opposed banning powdered alcohol, did not immediately respond to a message.

Four other states have passed similar legislation.

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