Inventor Mark Phillips’ hopes of selling powdered alcohol in Florida are dampening.
On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee voted 25-1 for a ban on Palcohol, which is pretty much what the name suggests: dehydrated booze. Although four varieties — vodka, rum, cosmopolitan and margarita — won approval from federal regulators last month, Palcohol is facing blowback from 37 state legislatures this year, including Florida’s.
Two committees in each chamber have now approved the ban, sponsored in the House by Rep. Bryan Avila, R-Hialeah, and Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, and in the Senate by Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami.
The push to ban powdered alcohol before it even hits liquor store shelves stems from a concern that it will be easier to overdose on liquor in a powdered form than as a liquid because it requires the drinker to mix the drink to have a safe alcohol content.
“We’d like to put a moratorium on it and see how the product works so there isn’t abuse,” Berman said Tuesday.
Each packet of Palcohol has approximately one ounce of powder. If added to about six ounces of water, it has the alcohol content of one standard drink, Phillips said.
That assumes it’s added to water.
Berman, speaking Tuesday before the House Appropriations Committee, echoed worries brought by alcohol prevention activists in previous hearings.
“We’ve had so many problems in our state with other abuses of drugs,” she said. “And now this powdered alcohol has a very large potential for abuse. People could be snorting it, people could be sneaking it into places.”
Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, the lone no vote Tuesday, said an outright ban isn’t the best policy for a substance whose risks aren’t confirmed because it hasn’t hit the market yet. He’s also worried about a one-year sunset provision added to the House version in committee.
“We’re banning something that we don’t even know what it is,” he said.
Phillips says the state shouldn’t get in people’s way at all if they want to buy and use Palcohol.
Ultimately, he said, it’s up to consumers to mix it with water and use it responsibly, as they would with liquid alcohol.
“The legislators are telling them they can’t have a legal product, basically saying they know what’s better than the people themselves,” Phillips said in a statement. “Whether you are conservative or liberal, no one wants a nanny state telling its citizens what they can and cannot drink.”
Contact Michael Auslen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @MichaelAuslen.