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Senate commerce panel says no to Palcohol sales in Florida

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A Senate commerce panel on Monday passed a bill that bans the sale of powdered alcohol in Florida.

Palcohol is a powdered form of alcohol manufactured by Lipsmark, a privately held company, made from distilled vodka or distilled Puerto Rican rum. Palcohol is often sold in pouches equal to one shot, which can be mixed with water, juice or other beverages, according to the Lipsmark website.

At one time, Lipsmark founder Mark Phillips promoted Palcohol on YouTube as an item that can be smuggled into events like concerts.

Under CS/SB 998, a person who sells or offers to sell Palcohol can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor and a second violation within five years would be a third-degree felony.

A person who purchases, uses, offers for use or possesses Palcohol commits a noncriminal violation punishable by a fine of $250.

The bill heads to the Senate Rules and Calendar Committee next.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved labels for several variety of powdered alcohol product “Palcohol” on March 10, 2015. The bureau is responsible for assuring that alcohol and tobacco products comply with federal marketing and labeling requirements and ensures the proper tax and trade requirements on alcohol.

After the TTB approved labels for Palcohol March 10, the House last week passed a bill that outlaws the sale of Palcohol. The measure is backed by the Beer Industry of Florida, Florida Beer Wholesalers and the Wine & Spirits Distributors of Florida.

Calls to ban powdered alcohol came soon after the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved Palcohol. Although the Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved Palcohol, the agency did attempt to clarify the product on March 13, saying “at this time the FDA does not have a legal basis to block market entry of this product.”

Lipsmark has been an active opponent of legislative bans, dismissing claims that users will spike drinks, snort or smuggle Palcohol.

The company says on its website:

“By banning powdered alcohol, the state will create a black market which means the state loses control of the distribution … Banning Palcohol will make it easier for kids to get access to the product because there is no control over distribution.

It’s irresponsible to ban Palcohol. The government will spend precious financial resources trying to enforce the ban and it probably won’t work. We can see how successful the government was during Prohibition and even in the war on drugs.”

So far, Alaska, Louisiana, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia have banned the sale of powdered alcohol.

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