By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
April 23, 2014
Yes, no, maybe so? News of the federal government’s approval of alcohol in a powder form was more mixed up than a kamikaze cocktail as fans of Palcohol eagerly anticipated the product’s release only to hear that the approval had been issued in error. Even so, some industry insiders have speculated that the reversal may have resulted from lawmaker reaction.
“Whatever kept this from being approved, we say, ‘Thank the Lord!'” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “But let’s not get caught up in celebration and fail to keep watch. Obviously this thing’s not going away. And certainly, it is not something we want to see on shelves in North Carolina.”
News that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau had given “label approval” to six versions of the product — a packet of powder that can be mixed with water to produce an instant glass of rum, vodka or four different cocktails — broke over Easter weekend. But by Monday afternoon, Lipsmark, which owns Palcahol had announced that there was a discrepancy regarding how much powder was in each bag and that “there was a mutual agreement” for the company to surrender the labels.
The Bureau’s announcement that the approvals were issued “in error,” contradicted the company’s contention that “this doesn’t mean that Palcohol isn’t approved. It just means that these labels aren’t approved.”
“We will resubmit labels. We don’t have an expected approval date as label approval can vary widely,” the Palcohol web site states.
Even if approved, that doesn’t mean the product will come to Tar Heel ABC stores.
“I have the utmost faith that our state leadership, both appointed and elected, will do the right thing if Palcohol tries to sell its product in North Carolina,” said Dylan Ellerbee, executive director of the N.C. Alcohol Policy Alliance.
“Thankfully, the 21st Amendment set a legal framework that puts the control of alcohol sales in the hands of states, and North Carolina has long been a leader in that arena.”
Ellerbee said access to alcohol is the biggest concern with underage drinking and that a powder that can be concealed and consumed in mass quantities quickly and easily presents a serious danger to our young people.
Dr. Creech agreed.
“It’s a little difficult to hide a six-pack of beer or a fifth of liquor. Bottles rattle and take up space, but a powder can be taken virtually anywhere without question,” he said. “Think of movie theaters, sports stadiums, even restaurants that already sell alcohol because it will be cheaper to order a bottle of water than a mixed drink.”
No wonder the company urges future customers to “Take your Pal wherever you go!”
Touted as “small enough to fit into any pocket” and weighing about one ounce, when mixed with five ounces of liquid Palcohol has the same amount of alcohol as a mixed drink.
“What could be even worse than making alcohol so much more accessible to underage drinkers is that this powder will tempt some kids to try snorting it, sending toxins straight to the brain,” said Dr. Creech. “There simply are no redeeming qualities to this product.”
Like Ellerbee, he expects the state’s Alcohol Beverage Commission (ABC) to steer clear of Palcohol, when it does make it to the market. However, the fact that its makers plan to sell it via the Internet means parents need to beware.
“This is an issue we will continue to follow, so stay tuned,” said Dr. Creech.