New York State joined 24 other states on Friday, Aug. 14 in banning the sale of a new type of alcohol available in powder form and commonly referred to as “Palcohol.”
This legislation amends the already existing alcohol beverage control law to include the terms “powder” and “crystalline” to the definition of “alcoholic beverage” and bans the sale of any types of alcohol in those forms.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved powdered alcohol federally in 2014, but later reversed the decision, which the bureau said had been made “in error.” This has left the choice of whether or not to allow sale of the powder up to the individual states.
Mark Phillips, who is currently the only U.S. distributor attempting to sell powdered alcohol, said in an email that “[the legislation] will create a black market making it easier for kids to get a hold of. And New York will miss out on significant tax revenue from the legal sale of Palcohol.”
“This dangerous product is a public health disaster waiting to happen,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news release. “I am proud to sign this legislation that will keep powdered alcohol off the shelves and out of the wrong hands.”
Common concerns regarding the sale of powdered alcohol include the possibility of it being snorted, used to spike drinks and brought into places where alcohol is prohibited. There is also worry that being able to easily conceal and transport the powder will cause it to be abused by those under the age of 21.
“This law signed today gives us that rare proactive opportunity to avoid exposing our most vulnerable to one more substance that could have a detrimental impact on their lives,” State Sen. Joseph Griffo, a sponsor of the bill, explained in the news release.
When reached for comment, Rocco LaDuca, a spokesman for Griffo, clarified that a violation of this ban would be treated as a misdemeanor under New York State Alcoholic Beverage Control laws, and could be punishable by a fine and/or up to a year in county jail.
While the amendment makes it illegal to sell powdered alcohol, it didn’t address the legality of producing or owning it. The main ingredient, tapioca maltodextrin, is readily available online and can be easily mixed with alcohol to create the powder.
Similar products are available in countries such as Japan, where powdered alcohol is marketed and sold by Sato Foods, and in Germany, where it’s known as “subyou.” While the product is currently still legal in 25 states and various other countries, transporting it into New York is prohibited.