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New law regulates Palcohol

DENVER – Powdered alcohol, a product marketed as a fast way to mix and carry drinks on the go, will be taxed and regulated like liquid booze in Colorado with a bill signed into law Monday by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The bill Hickenlooper signed into law gives the state’s liquor enforcement division authority to regulate powdered alcohol like other spirits, meaning it can’t be sold to minors, and it will be available only in places already authorized to sell alcohol.

The product, named Palcohol, is a powder in a small pouch to which water is added for the equivalent of a shot of vodka or rum. It’s also produced in two cocktail varieties: Powderita and Cosmopolitan.

This month, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved its sale, and the company that owns the product, Lipsmark, says it hopes to start selling it this summer.

At least five states, including Alaska, Louisiana, and Vermont, passed legislation banning Palcohol before the product’s approval. Nearly three dozen bills in 24 states were introduced regarding powdered alcohol this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Detractors warn of its ease to sneak into schools, restaurants and bars, as well as sporting events. Product creators, however, tout its portability to take on long hikes, flights, or to use as an antiseptic in remote locations.

Lipsmark officials did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Colorado’s new law. In past statements, they urged lawmakers to regulate the product just like they would regular alcohol, saying the framework to do so was already in place.

Colorado lawmakers initially considered banning Palcohol pending federal approval and until the state formed a regulatory system for it. But even before federal regulators approved Palcohol, lawmakers scaled back their vision of a ban and moved toward figuring out how to tax and sell it.

Rep. Joann Windholz, R-Commerce City, one of the lawmakers who carried the bill, said she was “concerned that it wasn’t going to make it all the way” but was pleased by the outcome. She said lawmakers got out in front of the issue.

“It could’ve gotten to Colorado without us having any control over where it was sold or who could buy it,” she said.

While she complimented the inventor’s “Yankee ingenuity,” she remains opposed to Palcohol and is still concerned it could contribute to underage drinking and be sneaked into various places.

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