Legislation that would ban the sale of powdered or crystalline alcohol in Tennessee has cleared its first hurdle with passage in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. Senate Bill 374, sponsored by Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), would make it a Class A misdemeanor offense to sale the product, which is currently pending approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Palcohol, which is the brand name for the new product, was approved last year by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau before the agency rescinded that decision over labeling issues. When mixed with water it becomes a cocktail. It is being promoted as a product that can be easily transported by the consumer.
“The powdered alcohol product is creating concern nationwide that it would be an easy and accessible target for abuse by underage drinkers, including the possibility of being snorted,” said Senator Ketron. “There is also concern that the product could be misused by adults if it is sprinkled onto someone’s food or in their drink without the other person’s knowledge.”
“It could easily be over-consumed by a person not knowing how much to dilute it by, by eating it undiluted, or by mixing it with an existing alcohol creating a drink with an unknown potency, thus greatly increasing the risk of over-drinking and alcohol poisoning,” Ketron added.
Powdered alcohol products would not be defined as an alcoholic beverage under current Tennessee law because it is not a liquid and would be free from regulation by the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission. This means it could be sold directly to minors in grocery stores, over the Internet or in any other location. In addition, powdered alcohol could create liability issues for owners of bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, as the accessibility of powdered alcohol and the ease in which it can be snuck in could unintentionally lead to the illegal over-serving of a customer by the establishment.
Thirteen states have enacted similar legislation banning powdered alcohol. The bill now goes to the full Senate for final consideration.