Under the Dome

NC House panel votes to ban powdered alcohol

The N.C. House Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to ban powdered alcohol in the state.

Sold under the brand name Palcohol, the product was approved by federal regulators last year. It comes in packets that can be poured into other beverages to make mixed drinks. It can also be snorted, allowing consumers to get drunk within minutes.

“It’s obvious what the concerns would be if we should have powdered alcohol being sold,” said Rep. Shelly Willingham, the Rocky Mount Democrat who sponsored the bill banning it. “It’s like making Kool-Aid. Anybody can do it.”

The Rev. Mark Creech, director of the Christian Action League, said even closely regulated powdered alcohol sales could cause serious problems.

“The cost is too low, and it encourages overconsumption,” he told legislators Wednesday. “The size and shape of the package are similar to non-alcoholic children’s drink packages. It’s easy for underage drinkers to conceal. … This doesn’t need to be regulated, it needs to be prohibited.”

No one spoke against the ban during the hearing, although Rep. Charles Jeter said a purveyor of the product sent him one of the “nastiest” emails he’s ever received.

If Willingham’s bill becomes law, North Carolina would join 26 other states that have already banned powdered alcohol. “The best thing is to make sure that it’s not even produced,” he said.

The bill goes next to the House Health Committee.