Should Powdered Alcohol Be Sold In Pennsylvania?

Mar 16, 2015

The relatively new product Palcohol, or powdered alcohol, has many concerned with its safety, including a Pennsylvania state senator who is looking to have the intoxicant banned.

Sen. Shirley Kitchen echoes the concerns of many that this product will lead to more problems with teen drinking. They believe the product would be easier to conceal and transport. Also some are concerned drinks could be spiked with the power, making them much stronger than intended.

“Palcohol is essentially microbeads of liquid alcohol encased in sugar caplets, similar to the way they make flavor crystals for chewing gum. When the Palcohol hits a glass of water the sugar dissolves, and the alcohol is released into the drink,” Kitchen said.

Kitchen’s bill would ban any sale or possession of Palcohol in the commonwealth, except for research purposes.

The Liquor Control Board declined to sell the product in state Wine and Spirits stores, but Kitchen does not believe that is enough.

“My chief concern is that it can be purchased in other states and brought to Pennsylvania,” said Kitchen.

Companies have shown interest in the product to cut down on transportation costs of liquid alcohol.

The maker of Palcohol markets it in four flavors: rum, vodka, cosmopolitan and margarita. The packages weigh are about an ounce each, which is much lighter than their liquid counterpart.   

The inventor of the product, Mark Phillips, disagrees with many of the concerns brought up over the product. He said a package of Palcohol is no easier to conceal than a mini bottle, which would contain the same amount of alcohol. Also the sale of Palcohol would be limited only to distributors already licensed to sell alcohol within the state, putting the same restrictions on sale to minors that are already in place.

Palcohol was approved by the FDA, but has been banned in Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Carolina and Vermont. Currently many more states are looking to ban the product as well. 

The product is expected to hit the market this summer in states that have not already banned it.