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The Feds Might Not Be Down With Everyone Snorting Powdered Alcohol

Consumers may be in love with the co-co Cosmos, but many states are trying to place bans on powdered cocktails before they even make it to store shelves.
Hilary Pollack
Los Angeles, US
January 20, 2015, 9:03pm

The American government decided in 1933 that they're fine with all of us crazy kids getting faded on the regular, but there are some forms of booze about which they have strong reservations. Like Four Loko and Sparks before it, Palcohol—a powdered alcohol product due to hit the market in the coming months—seems a little too fun for the tastes of the Feds. They can live with high-proof vodka when it's in our appletinis; not so much when we're doing fat, crystally lines of it in our parents' bathrooms. (This may also account for why getting cracked out on venti triple-shot Americanos is A-OK by the law, but enjoying a few casual key bumps is not.)

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Palcohol was invented and is currently being developed for consumers by Mark Phillips, a wine expert who came up with the idea while trying to find ways to easily bring booze with him on hiking, biking, and kayaking trips sans the weight of heavy bottles. In addition to being sold in vodka and rum formulas, Palcohol is also available as four just-add-water cocktails: Cosmopolitan, Mojito, "Powderita," and Lemon Drop.

But there's a quite a bit of fear surrounding Palcohol. Food Safety News reports that many states are trying to place bans on the pow-pow before it even makes it to store shelves. Senator Tim Carpenter, who is currently pushing for such a ban in his state of Wisconsin, argues that "The potential for abuse outweighs quite heavily the need for that type of product." (We wonder if he has seen our "review" of homemade powdered alcohol on VICE.com.)

Lipsmark, Palcohol's parent company, is currently awaiting federal approval and a patent for their version of Cosmo cocaine. (Previous patents have been filed as far back as the early 1970s for other formulas of powdered alcohol.) On a statewide level, some reps from both major political parties are not amused.

Colorado, Nebraska, Utah, and Wisconsin have already introduced legislature to ban it, citing reasons such as the opportunity for abuse by minors, ease of concealment and transport into illegal venues, and the issue of "snorting." However, Phillips addresses the Nose Drugs Dilemma directly on the Palcohol site, disclaiming that it takes about "approximately 60 minutes of painful snorting" to ingest the equivalent of a single shot of alcohol.

But although it would be physically unpleasant and counterproductive to rail a mound of Powderita, it's fair to assume that some stupid teenagers somewhere will be interested in doing just that. (They're now recreationally snorting condoms, for Christ's sake.) Whether it's easier to acquire or more legitimately harmful than a 12-pack of Smirnoff Ice nicked from a corner store is less clear. Some might argue that the burning sensation would actually be a deterrent from repeat Palcoholling. Why make your sinuses weep with blood and fire when you could be chugging something far more sugary and even more high-inducing, like Robitussin?

On its website, Lipsmark currently has a lengthy statement fighting for our right to snort Lemon Drops. "People say that banning powdered alcohol is the responsible thing to do. It's just the opposite. Banning powdered alcohol is the most irresponsible action a legislature can take," it reads. "By banning a product that's in demand, it creates a black market which means the state loses all control over it." It also offers counterarguments to the four main criticisms of Palcohol: that it will be snorted, that it will be easier to sneak around, that it will make it easier to spike drinks, and that it will be easily acquired by minors.

Palcohol says that it will not be available for sale until "at least spring 2015"—pushing back a previous date estimate of fall 2014. Additionally, the company is not sending out any pre-release samples or granting any interviews until the product is ready for sale.

Unroll your dollar bills—you might not be insufflating your cocktail quite so soon.