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House committee passes bill to make palcohol illegal

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Alcohol in the Sunshine State will have to come in the liquid form as a House committee on Tuesday voted in favor of a bill that makes powdered alcohol illegal in Florida.

The House Business & Professions Committee advanced the bill  after rejecting an amendment that would have regulated the sale of powdered alcohol instead of banning it.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau of the U.S. Department of Treasury approved labels for the sale of the powdered alcohol product Palcohol. Alaska, Louisiana, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia have banned the sale of powdered alcohol. Michigan and Delaware define powdered alcohol as an alcoholic beverage.

The bill bans the sale of powdered alcohol that contains more than 76 percent alcohol by volume. Any person who sells the alcohol commits a first-degree misdemeanor. People who have been convicted for selling alcohol face a third-degree felony if they sell the product again within a five-year period.

There was a “strike everything” amendment prepared for the bill that would have made powdered alcohol legal and would have required that it be sold in packages that–when mixed–would not have produced more than 1.75 liters or 59.18 ounces. The amendment would have taxed powdered alcohol at the same rate as liquid alcohol and would have precluded on-premise consumption of powdered alcohol unless it was mixed into liquid form.

The amendment also would have precluded powdered alcohol from being sold in open display.

But the subcommittee members expressed concern with the amendment, with state Rep. Scott Plakon questioning how something could go from illegal to legal in 24 hours. State Rep. Dwight Dudley said he had children and was concerned for their safety. “I don’t want them snorting this stuff and I don’t want them using it.”

Bill sponsor state Rep. Bryan Avila told committee members that Palcohol was created for adults, not children. He also said that alcohol awareness begins at home. “We should not say no to innovation. We should not put up a barrier to business.”

Avila found support from subcommittee chairman Halsey Beshears, a self-described pro-business person, who told his committee that “it’s a shame to prohibit something without understanding it first.”

But the amendment to regulate the sale was defeated. Ultimately the bill to ban the powdered alcohol was passed.

The Senate also has moved to ban the sale of powdered alcohol but the bill, SB/ 998, allows powdered alcohol to be transported through the state and also allows the powdered alcohol for healthcare researchers as well as research conducted by a state institution, private college or university.

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