The creator of powdered alcohol said Thursday Idaho legislators are going too far in banning his product.
Mark Phillips, who developed the substance now illegal in 27 states, told IdahoReporter.com that lawmakers would make a big mistake to outlaw powdered alcohol, known as Palcohol.
“This is huge government overreach,” Phillips said. “A lot of people want to use this product, and do so responsibly.”
Members of the House State Affairs Committee approved the ban bill Thursday morning, though they sent it to General Orders, where lawmakers can amend it as they please. If changes are made in accordance with committee wishes, legislators will loosen the penalty for ban violators, as well as sharpen the definition of Palcohol.
Phillips said Idaho lawmakers, like many other policy makers across the country, are basing their decisions -- and their votes -- on incorrect information.
Idaho State Liquor Division chief Jeff Anderson told legislators Thursday the substance could harm young people, and could be snuck into alcohol-free zones.
Phillips rejected both those points.
“There's nothing that appeals to an underage drinker,” he said.
Phillips pointed out, the product, legal in the states where legislators have not banned it yet, is 15 times more expensive than regular liquid alcohol. That price point, he added, makes the product undesirable for younger drinkers, who typically seek only the cheapest alcohol available.
“Why would that appeal to underage drinkers?” he asked.
Phillips said lawmakers shouldn’t believe people could easily smuggle his powder into alcohol-free zones like schools or sports stadiums. The powder’s volume easily exceeds that of comparable liquid alcohol drinks.
“The volume of powder is four to five times greater in volume than the volume of liquid alcohol,” Phillips said. “Volume makes a difference.”
If drinkers wanted to smuggle alcohol, they’d be wiser to tote along something in a bottle. “One shot of liquid alcohol is smaller in volume,” he said.
Instead of banning it, Phillips suggested Idaho legislators allow the liquor division to regulate Palcohol in a manner similar to liquid alcohol.
“Don't ban it,” he urged. “Regulate it and tax it just like regular alcohol to keep it out of the hands of kids.”
Legislators will likely give the proposal a full House hearing early next week.
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