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Proposal: Regulate powdered alcohol like liquid alcohol

By Cara Lombardo

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Two Democratic state lawmakers have backed away from a proposal to ban powdered alcohol and instead want to subject it to the same regulations as liquid alcohol.

Sen. Tim Carpenter and Rep. Debra Kolste introduced a bill Monday to expand the state’s definition of alcohol to include powdered forms. A bill they introduced in 2015 to ban sale of the substance in Wisconsin failed to win key Republican support.

Carpenter said he wanted to make sure powdered alcohol was covered by the same rules that applied to sale and consumption of liquid alcohol before it is sold in Wisconsin. He worries that powdered alcohol packets would be especially easy to pass among underage drinkers or sneak into sporting venues.

“We have enough problems with drinking in our state,” he said.

The federal government approved a powdered alcohol product called Palcohol in 2015. Palcohol comes in the form of freeze-dried alcohols and cocktails meant to be mixed with liquid. Since then, states have been scrambling to ban or regulate the products before they hit shelves. At least 25 states — including neighboring Michigan, Illinois and Indiana — had banned the sale of powdered alcohol as of 2015, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Lynne Barbour, a spokeswoman for Palcohol, said the company supports regulating powdered alcohol the same as liquid alcohol but rejects the idea it is more dangerous.

“They’re both just alcohol,” she said.

Palcohol is not currently sold anywhere in the United States. While Palcohol’s website says the product could be on sale as soon as this summer, Barbour declined to comment on timing.

“Palcohol WILL come to Wisconsin,” she said. “The prudent action would be to regulate it so kids can’t get a hold of it.”

The bill proposed by Carpenter and Kolste includes regulatory exceptions for the use of powdered alcohol by hospitals or for scientific research. Two Republicans, Rep. Ed Brooks and Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, have already signed onto the measure. Republican Sen. Leah Vukmir, who Carpenter said opposed banning powdered alcohol, did not immediately respond to a message.

Four other states have passed similar legislation.

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