And you thought the Sunday sales fight was silly?

This package design for Palcohol was initially approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, then later rejected. Photo credit:

Without argument or question the Indiana Senate unanimously passed a bill that would prohibit the sale and use of a product that is not yet available for retail purchase.

Senate Bill 6 would make the possession, sale, and use of powdered or crystalline alcohol in Indiana a Class B infraction. The only exception is in the name of research by a hospital, the state health department, a state educational institution, a private college or university or a pharmaceutical or biotechnology company.

Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, authored the bill. He compared the desire to prohibit powdered alcohol to the state’s ban on synthetic drugs like “K-2” or “Spice.” He championed the idea of getting ahead of a potential threat and gathered unanimous support for the measure.

However to compare powdered alcohol with synthetic drugs is like comparing Jack Daniels to crystal meth. Literally.

Powdered alcohol is trademarked under the name “Palcohol” and owned by Lismark LLC, a privately held company. It was created by Mike Phillips, an Arizona entrprenuer who was looking for a way to enjoy his favorite cocktail while enjoying another favorite pastime - camping. According to the Palcohol website, Phillips wanted to enjoy that cocktail while camping without having to carry booze bottles out to the middle of nowhere. After he discovered powdered alcohol didn’t exist, Philips worked with various scientists to develop it. Eventually Palcohol was born.

By adding 5 ounces of liquid to a one-ounce package of Palcohol, the user has the equivalent of a standard mixed drink. Currently, Palcohol plans to offer premium distilled vodka and premium Puerto Rico rum in powdered form that can be added to water or to a mixer liquid of choice (Coke, orange juice, etc.). Palcohol will also offer four “just-add-water” mixed drink options: a Cosmopolitan, a Mojito, a “Powderita” (that tastes just like a Margarita) and a Lemon Drop. All of the products have patents pending. Palcohol is also waiting for approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau on how the product will be labeled. Company officials hope all approvals will be completed later this spring making Palcohol available for retail sale in the U.S. wherever standard liquor is sold and under the same local and federal laws for alcohol consumption and distribution.

Synthetic drugs, known by several names like “K-2” or “Spice” or “Vanilla Sky,” is under no government regulation. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, synthetic drugs are sold as bath salts or jewelry cleaner while synthetic marijuana was marketed as herbal incense or potpourri. By simply marking the packaging as “not intended for human consumption,” the products were able to avoid the regulatory oversight of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and made available in large retail outlets.

There is no inventor with a patent application on file or an official trademark for synthetic drugs. Officials with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol believe synthetic drugs originated overseas. Because of the man-made chemicals involved in the creation of synthetic drugs, federal officials are now discovering their manufacture in residential neighborhoods in the U.S., much like the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Although five states have already passed laws banning powdered alcohol and five states including Indiana are considering a ban, Philips says no state has invited him to testify and explain his product. According to the Palcohol website, the reaction to the product is based on assumptions and rumors that are not true. The company addresses the rumors on its website.

  • Palcohol has not been tested to be added to food as it was not designed for that purpose. Adding powdered alcohol to food is not enhancing or adding flavor, but rather is only adding alcohol.
  • Snorting Palcohol is not advised. It would be painful and would take 60 minutes of painful snorting to get the “buzz” equivalent of one shot of vodka. It would be quicker and less painful to mix it with water and drink. (The same can be said for intravenous use or entry into the body by any other orifice.)
  • Palcohol takes over a minute of stirring to dissolve so the odds of using it to “spike a drink” are slim-to-none.

Phillips says that banning a product that is in demand simply creates a black market for it. The government then loses regulatory control and, more importantly, tax dollars.

According to the Palcohol website, Lipsmark is investigating and experimenting with other uses for powdered alcohol that extend well beyond that of human recreational consumption. The company says it has been contacted by individuals interested in an industrial formulation that could lead powdered alcohol into a multitude of uses. Medical personnel have asked for ways it could be used as an antiseptic, especially in areas where the shipment of supplies is an issue due to weight or bulk. Manufacturers are looking at ways powdered alcohol could enhance or improve their businesses or products. (A Swedish and a Canadian company inquired about practical uses in its windshield wiper fluid.) Powdered alcohol as a lightweight energy source is also under consideration, including multiple military applications.

SB 6 only makes exceptions for research on the product that is already under trademark and patent protections.

The legislation passed the Indiana Senate without amendment and without debate. The measure now moves to the House for consideration, sponsored by Rep. Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte.