Tennessee Senate votes to ban powdered alcohol sales – The Tennessean
Although federal officials have opened the door to powdered cocktails, Tennessee is the latest of several states to push forward on plans to ban the new alcoholic products.
The state Senate voted Thursday to make the sale of crystalline or powdered alcohol a misdemeanor, with Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, casting the lone vote against the bill in the 33-member Senate. The vote comes a day after the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved a powdered alcohol product called Palcohol.
Similar to mixes for drinks like hot chocolate, the Palcohol pouch contains a powder that, when mixed with water, creates a drink with the equivalent of one shot of alcohol, according to the product’s manufacturer. Palcohol creator Mark Phillips invented the powder as an easy way for hikers or backpackers to make a drink without carrying heavy booze bottles.
Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, sponsored the Senate legislation. He argues there are too many potential risks and dangers with powdered alcohol.
“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,” Ketron said in a news release.
“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.”
Tennessee and other states are allowed to regulate the sale of such products regardless of any federal approval. Ketron’s office said the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission told it that 13 states have passed similar measures. That includes Vermont, South Carolina, Colorado and Louisiana
In a video statement posted to the company website, Phillips argues the fears mentioned by Ketron and many other lawmakers across the country “couldn’t be farther from the truth.”
“It is unfortunate that most of the media coverage has been about the imagined negative uses of powdered alcohol,” Phillips said in the video.
Phillips speaks to concerns about snorting the powder, sneaking it into an event, spiking someone’s drink and that minors will have easy access to the product.
Senate Republicans argue in Tennessee that’s not necessarily true. Spokeswoman Darlene Schlicher said the TABC told Ketron powdered alcohol wouldn’t fall under the definition of an “alcoholic beverage” in Tennessee state code because it’s not a liquid.
The phrase “alcoholic beverage” is defined in Tennessee law as “means and includes alcohol, spirits, liquor, wine, high alcohol content beer, and every liquid containing alcohol, spirits, wine, and high alcohol content beer and capable of being consumed by a human being … .”
TABC Director Keith Bell didn’t return a call requesting clarification.
The House version of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, is set for discussion in committee Wednesday.
Reach Dave Boucher at 615-259-8892 and on Twitter @Dave_Boucher1.