HB48: Bill targets just-add-water alcoholic powder

By Haley Sotelo
Capital West News

SALT LAKE CITY — Palcohol is the brand name of a new powdered alcohol product that would be affected by one Logan representative’s bill filed for the 2015 legislative session.

The substance, expected to reach the market this spring, represents alcohol in its driest form — powder. Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, is sponsoring The Powdered Alcohol Amendments, HB48, a bill that would ban powdered alcohol in Utah. Other states’ lawmakers are pursuing similar restrictions.

Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy

Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy

“If a government is responsible, they won’t ban it,” said Palcohol developer Mark Phillips in an emailed statement. “The government should allow for it to be sold. They should regulate and tax it, just like liquid alcohol. Banning it will create a black market for it, thus, losing all control over its distribution.”

Phillips product is contained in a 1-ounce package and uses the “just add water” method. Despite the heated debate over powdered alcohol, Phillips remains adamant that there are significant recreational and industrial benefits to his product.

“Anyone who fears [powdered alcohol] probably doesn’t know much about it . . . It has so many positive uses—for the recreation enthusiast, for the traveler who wants a lightweight alternative and in a container that won’t break, as an antiseptic that can be transported to emergency situations easier than liquid antiseptic, as an alternative fuel source that could possibly be used in a soldier’s backpack, as an alternative to liquid alcohol served in airplanes, thus, saving the airlines millions on fuel costs and many other commercial applications,” Phillips said.

Still, some have voiced their concerns about the product, and the Utah State Legislature will decide whether or not Palcohol deserves a space on Utah liquor store shelves.

“As a first responder who goes on a lot of [calls for] lost and hurt hikers, I have an issue with the company actually advertising its product as only weighing an ounce which is perfect for hiking,” wrote Leo Byrne, a firefighter with the Los Angeles Fire Department, in an online venue.

Others view a prohibition as being inconsistent with current regulations. “If opponents claim to be embarking on a crusade against underage drinking and universal safety, why stop at powder alcohol? This claim doesn’t seem legitimate to me without the equivalent crusade against alcohol in general,” said Faith Conlin, a student at Brigham Young University.

Utah’s legislative session begins on Jan. 26 where powdered alcohol will be considered.

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