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Powdered Alcohol: A new way to consume a very old vice

Post written by Matthew S. Wachter, Esq.

Unknown1The first documented use of alcoholic beverages was written in Sumerian around 3200 BC. Since then, practically every civilization has consumed alcohol in largely the same way: by drinking it! Casual consumption of alcoholic beverages is generally accepted, though not without consequence, in most households and countries around the world. However, with a little simple chemistry, one form of alcohol is causing an uproar across much of the United States: powdered alcohol.

What exactly is powdered alcohol?

Powdered alcohol is freeze-dried vodka, rum, or other drinks generally contained in small packets and sold in liquor or grocery stores. The powder is added into water and mixed to become an alcoholic drink. The problem, legislators say, is the packets can be easily smuggled into concerts or schools without detection in a way that bottles cannot. In fact, it is so easy to make powdered alcohol that many popular websites have recently posted instructions detailing how to make powdered alcohol at home with a few simple ingredients.

Is powdered alcohol legal?

In April 2014, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) approved labels for a product called Palcohol that can be added to water to make an alcoholic beverage. The makers of Palcohol, who are seeking federal approval to market it, say their freeze-dried vodka, rum, “powderitas” and other drinks will appeal to backpackers and others who want a lightweight, more portable form of liquor. Within two weeks of approving the labels, the TTB issued a statement indicating the label approvals were issued in error. Then, in March 2015, the TTB approved the revised labels for Palcohol, allowing the product to be sold legally in the United States, unless otherwise prohibited.

Just this past May, Connecticut’s House of Representatives, citing evidence of juveniles snorting the product, voted to ban the sale of powdered alcohol. As of the date of this publication, the Bill has yet to be signed by the Governor. The Nutmeg State’s attack on powdered alcohol follows statewide bans in Delaware, Vermont, Virginia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Utah and Alaska. New York Senator Chuck Schumer has even advised the Food and Drug Administration to ban it outright, calling it “the Kool-Aid of teenage binge drinking.” Needless to say, powdered alchol is a contentious and developing issue that merits further discussion and observation. Please consult with your independent agent or legal counsel to determine your potential liability implications and recommended insurance coverages. To find an independent agent in your area, please click here.


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