Powdered alcohol was recently okayed for sale by federal regulators, but its use can be regulated by the states [source]. House Bill 71, which would have banned powdered alcohol, brand named “Palcohol”, failed to get approval in the Kentucky House when the General Assembly session ended without action being taken. The original bill banning powdered alcohol, Senate Bill 81, died in the House. Then the Senate attempted to restore the measure by including it in House Bill 71, which was approved in the Senate but did not make it out of the House Rules Committee.
What is “Palcohol”?It is simply drinking alcohol in powdered form that can be mixed in liquids to create an alcoholic drink. It comes in flavors such as rum, vodka, and three kinds of mixed drinks. One ounce of Palcohol has the same alcoholic content as one shot of liquor. [Courier Journal / NY Times] Opponents say that the availability of Palcohol, because it is easier to conceal and use secretly, could increase the chances of underage drinking and abuse. Such abuse would likely cause an increase in DUI accidents, alcohol poisonings, and addiction. It has been called “the Kool-Aid of teenage binge drinking.”
Convenience vs. Recipe for Disaster?Palcohol might seem convenient for times when it is difficult to carry heavy bottles, such as on a picnic. Palcohol’s inventors wanted something they could easily carry on hikes. But people forget that one of the drinkers might be driving to and from the picnic or hiking site. Other concerns include the fact that someone could use powdered alcohol to secretly increase the strength of someone’s drink without that person’s knowledge or consent. Also, it doesn’t take much imagination to see that alcohol could easily be brought into alcohol-free venues, such as Rupp Arena, and thereby cause additional public safety issues like crowd control. Alcohol and its abuse are always primary concerns for law enforcement [source].
Special Concerns for Pike CountyIn eastern Kentucky, we often see first-hand the devastating results of drinking and driving, and our state is challenged in the way it addresses the issue of DUIs. Some counties, including Pike County, use “court diversion” to address DUI. “Court diversion” means that the offender is “diverted” to counseling, with the offense taken off their record at the end of the counseling period. Often, they do not have to enter a guilty or no-contest plea.
Staying Safe When Alcohol is InvolvedThis summer, enjoy good times with family and friends, but be safe:
- Always choose and use a designated driver when drinking might occur.
- Parents, talk with your teens about underage drinking, especially the risks specific to Palcohol.
- If the party is at your place, always provide plenty of food for your guests to keep people from drinking on an empty stomach.
- Confirm that your guests have a safe way to get home, or give them a place to “sleep it off.”
- Never push alcohol on people.
- Never serve alcohol to anyone under the age of 21!