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UPDATE: As reported by CBS News on March 11, 2015, “On Wednesday, bureau spokesman Tom Hogue told The Associated Press the issues were resolved and that four varieties of Palcohol were approved. But Hogue noted that states can also regulate alcohol sales in their borders.”
Below is our original text on the subject from the previous year…
Palcohol, a powdered alcohol product, has been dominating the news cycle. That’s right, you didn’t read that wrong. Powdered alcohol. The most widely used and abused drug in the world will now, potentially, be available to consumers in an easy to conceal powdered form.
Just add water and anyone with access to Palcohol powder can create an adult beverage in one of six flavors (Vodka, Rum, Mojito, Cosmopolitan, Powderita Margarita, and Lemon Drop).
Why is Palcohol Powdered Alcohol a bad idea? Here are 4 reasons:
1. Palcohol Might Easily Be Abused
An estimated 15 million Americans are currently dealing with alcohol abuse and dependency issues, and that number doesn’t include the thousands of families and friends coping with the fallout from addiction.
Palcohol comes in small, sealed packages. The makers claim their product allows people who are, say, camping to enjoy a drink without packing bulky cans and bottles of alcohol. However, these small packages will also make it easy for anyone trying to conceal their addiction issues, essentially being able to carry a liquor cabinet around in their pocket.
Furthermore, there are conflicting reports about how much alcohol the powder contains by volume. Some claims are as high as 65 percent and as low as 10 percent. Regardless, anyone can make a very potent mixture.
2. People May Snort Powdered Palcohol
Due to the powdered form of Palcohol, it’s possible that people will snort it to get drunker quicker. Consuming it this way allows the alcohol to absorb into the bloodstream much faster, and could raise the risk for alcohol poisoning or even death.
Before the controversy, the Palcohol website addressed this concern in a very tongue-in-cheek manner. “Let’s talk about the elephant in the room,” they wrote. “…snorting Palcohol. Yes, you can snort it. And you’ll get drunk almost immediately. Good idea? No, it will mess you up.”
The company has since taken that language off their site, but the damage is done. With binge drinking movements such as I’m Shmacked and Neknominate, there’s no doubt that snorting Palcohol could become a dangerous pastime.
3. Palcohol Could be Slipped Into Someone’s Drink
Because Palcohol is a powder, it could theoretically be slipped into someone’s drink, or for that matter, their food without their knowledge. According to the website, the makers of Palcohol are experimenting with how to use the powder to enhance meals with their product, adding, “It gives food a kick.” Yet, there’s no mention of the potential dangers this could create by someone with bad intentions.
4. Possible Palcohol Use by Minors
The easy to hide package can be concealed from parents and law enforcement much simpler than any other form of alcohol. There is also the fear that this powder will look very similar to other types of powdered drinks, such as Kool-Aid or lemonade, which small children could mistakenly mix and consume.
The list of bad reasons could go on to mention imbibing in places where alcohol is prohibited, like some concerts or sporting events. It’s a safety measure.
There are also places that charge too much for alcohol. It’s a bummer to pay for expensive drinks but it keeps people from drinking too much. Dollar drink happy hours have frequently been hotspots for people that have been over-served and drive drunk on the way home.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (ATTTB) approved the substance earlier this month, and Palcohol was expected to be in stores later this year. However, the release of this announcement created enough controversy that the government agency withdrew its approval and stated that it was made “in error.”
This doesn’t mean that Palcohol won’t be sold in stores sometime soon, though. The ATTTB withdrew its sanction of the product due to some incorrect information on the labels that the makers of Palcohol submitted.
The inventor of Palcohol, Mark Phillips, and the privately held company, Lipsmark, which owns it, still expect their product, according to their website, to be available in stores this fall.
While we applaud the creativity and innovation of Palcohol and its makers, the risks far outweigh the benefits, and its application would be better served for non-alcoholic drinks that don’t have the potential for causing harm.