Powdered Alcohol, Approved Nationally, Is Still Banned in Massachusetts

The powdered product, when mixed with water, makes alcoholic beverages.

Image via Palcohol website

Image via Palcohol website

The federal government just approved the sale of powdered alcohol products, but before you run out to the liquor store to get some, know that the stuff is still banned in Massachusetts. And before you jump in your car to cross the border for it, know that it’s legality in the United States might not last so long. And before you try to procure it on the black market, know that, well, it might be kind of gross.

The product, after all, is known as Palcohol, and it’s basically a powdered mix that, when dissolved in liquid, makes an alcoholic beverage. Think Kool Aid or Minute Maid, but with hangovers. Expected to hit stores this summer, it’ll include flavors like rum, vodka, lemon drop, cosmopolitan, or “powderita.” After approving the product and then reversing that decision last April, the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau re-approved Palcohol for sale this week. The company suggests it will be useful for traveling, camping, or other times you wouldn’t want a liquid drink on you…like, say, your high school prom?

Indeed, critics fear that its small size makes it too easy for teenagers to sneak the stuff. And its powdered form makes it strange and new enough that people might misuse it. Already, there’s a fear that people will snort it. The company argues that it’s not potent enough to make snorting worthwhile. Plus, it seriously burns. Nevertheless, on Thursday, the state Alcohol Beverage Control Commission issued an advisory:

Because powdered alcohol is a new form of alcohol, there is a risk of inadvertent misuse by people unfamiliar with its potency. Relatedly, given the flavors it currently comes in, there is potential for it to be appealing to teenagers.

Of course, if a product’s appeal to teenagers were grounds for banning its sale, the wine cooler industry would be in some real regulatory hot water. But anyway, the state argues that because powders don’t fall under the definition of “beverages,” those who have a license to sell liquor aren’t permitted to distribute Palcohol.

Nor is Massachusetts the only state with concerns. Even before hitting stores, powdered alcohol has been banned in several other states. On the federal level, Senator Charles Schumer of New York said today he wants to ban it. He, too, seemed to think that permitting sale of the product, even with a minimum age, posed too great a risk to teenagers.

I am in total disbelief that our federal government has approved such an obviously dangerous product, and so, Congress must take matters into its own hands and make powdered alcohol illegal.

All that is to say, if Schumer gets his way, Palcohol isn’t too long for this nation, at which point the state ban here in Massachusetts won’t matter too much either.