By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
April 16, 2015
RALEIGH – Wednesday the House Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee voted unanimously to approve a measure that bans powdered alcohol in North Carolina. HB 290 – Prohibit Powdered Alcohol seeks to protect the public from a new product, Palchol, developed by Arizona-based Lipsmark LLC founder/owner Mark Philips.
“Jesus turned water into wine,” Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League said humorously. “Mark Phillips’ product turns water into rum or vodka or a margarita. This is truly bad and will only add to the ‘parade of horribles’ fostered by liquid alcohol.”
No one spoke against the ban during debate on the measure, but Rep. Kelly Alexander (D-Mecklenburg) did inquire as to why the product should be banned instead of regulated. When ABC Committee Co-Chair, Jon Hardister (R-Guilford), who moderated the meeting, gave an opportunity to hear from the public on the matter, Dr. Creech testified about Palcohol’s many serious dangers and concluded, “This doesn’t need to be regulated, it needs to be prohibited.”
Users of Palcohol simply add water to a powdered alcohol in a metallic like pouch that looks a lot like a child’s juice squeeze container.
Public health and safety advocates have raised many concerns about the product, saying it will exacerbate the problems of underage drinking. The product, they warn, is too low in price and will encourage over consumption. The packets are easy for underage drinkers to conceal. It creates the potential for easily spiking a drink to make it more potent. It can be combined with caffeinated energy drinks, as well as mixed with the problematic youth-oriented flavored malt beverages known as alcopops. Moreover, it can be snorted and spread on food like sugar with toxic effects.
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York), who has put forward legislation in Congress to ban the product nationwide, has dubbed Palcohol as “Kool-Aid for underage drinking.” During his explanation of the bill, Rep. Shelly Willingham (D-Rocky Mount), the bill’s primary sponsor, echoed Schumer’s sentiments, saying, “It’s like Kool-Aid, anybody can do it.”
In a letter dated March 27th, North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Chairman, Jim Gardner, wrote to lawmakers pointing out the many risks created by powdered alcohol and asked them to support HB 290.
Gardner explained, “The NC ABC regulates alcoholic beverages. However, powdered alcohol is not defined as a beverage in our statutes, and so this product falls outside the regulatory authority of the NC ABC Commission. The proposed legislation is worded to address this issue by preventing this problem product from legally entering our state.”
According to Alcohol Justice, a national alcohol watchdog group based in San Rafael, California, “6 states have banned powdered alcohol, 2 states have taken administrative/regulatory action to ban it, and at least 22 states have legislation pending that would ban it.”
HB 290 now moves to the House Health Committee for consideration.