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Potential 'Palcohol' Sales Worrying Some PA Lawmakers

State Sen. Shirley Kitchen (D-Philadelphia) has introduced two separate bills to ban the sale of powdered alcohol in Pennsylvania.

“It’s odorless and it’s a powder so it can be manipulated and even the best-trained lawmen would not be able to detect this,” said Kitchen, who held a roundtable discussion about the product at Temple University in Philadelphia.

"Palcohol" can be dissolved into water and other liquid. Lawmakers, education officials, community members and others expressed concern over potential retail in Pennsylvania at Kitchen's meeting last week.

The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved the product shortly after its Arizona-based parent company announced plans to produce and distribute it in 2014. The federal government said that the approval was granted in error, but it has not yet been reversed.  

Kitchen argued its sale could increase underage drinking and is calling for a full state ban.

“Someone can bring it in from another state so it can find its way into Pennsylvania, and at the present time there’s nothing we can do about it because we don’t have any laws covering powdered alcohol,” she said.

State Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton) echoed Kitchen’s concerns. Powdered alcohol presents many of the same dangers as synthetic drugs, she said. 

“These derivative forms and substances don’t really help or solve anything, but can potentially trigger numerous unforeseen problems and dangers,” Boscola said.

Chief among its potential harms could stem from how it’s ingested, said Ken Dickinson, marketing director of Gaudenzia Inc., a drug and alcohol addiction and treatment company.

Dickinson said smoking, snorting or injecting the powder is not out of the realm of possibility.

“We have addicts who have learned to take fentanyl out of patches,” he said. “People will find a way to make this even more dangerous.”

Palcohol's website states there is much misinformation about the product and claim it’s safer than liquid alcohol. Several states have passed bans or are considering its prohibition.

Both Senate Bills 588 and 733 are awaiting committee consideration.