The House today approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Lauren H. Carson to ban powdered alcohol in Rhode Island.
The legislation is aimed at protecting Rhode Islanders, particularly youth, from a substance with an unknown potential for danger and abuse.
“Most of the powdered drinks that are available today are largely marketed toward children — things like fruit punches and other sweet drinks, hot chocolate and the like. Making alcohol available in that form makes it too appealing to children,” said Representative Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport). “The public’s unfamiliarity with this form of alcohol could also lead to people of all ages accidently consuming unsafe amounts of powdered alcohol. Add to that the potential for snorting this product, or kids sneaking it into schools because it’s more transportable and easy to hide, and it’s basically just-add-water danger.”
The legislation (2016-H 7026A) would criminalize the possession, purchase, or sale of powdered alcohol, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000. Additionally, the legislation would add the powdered form to the definition of alcohol in state law. Without that change, it might be possible for people to evade laws preventing the sale or transfer of alcohol to minors as well as tax laws that apply to alcohol if it is in powdered form.
Powdered alcohol is molecularly encapsulated alcohol which, when mixed with water, produces an alcoholic beverage. A product called “Palcohol” – which had received initial approval from the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in 2014 only to have it rescinded – was officially approved later in the year by a federal regulator.
As of November, 27 states had laws banning powdered alcohol.
The legislation is cosponsored by Rep. Raymond E. Gallison Jr. (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth), Rep. Kathleen A. Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown), Rep. Eileen S. Naughton (D-Dist. 21, Warwick) and Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown). It will now proceed to the Senate, which passed identical legislation (2016-S 2059) sponsored by Sen. Frank Lombardo III (D-Dist. 25, Johnston) last month.