Legislature Seeks To Ban Powdered Alcohol…Before It's Available


HB1464, sponsored by Rep. Alisa Mitskog (D-Wahpeton) and Senator Jon Casper (R-Fargo), seeks to ban powdered alcohol from being sold or used in North Dakota.

Never heard of it before? That’s not surprising. It’s not currently for sale. But we still need to ban it, I guess.

For the children:

North Dakota lawmakers are joining the ranks of other legislators across the country looking to outlaw a product that hasn’t even been released yet – powdered alcohol.

The website for the product, called Palcohol, says it won’t be released until this spring.

That hasn’t stopped state Sen. Jonathan Casper, R-Fargo, from co-sponsoring a bill with Rep. Alisa Mitskog, D-Wahpeton, that aims to ban the product’s sale or consumption in the state.

“My concern is for young people,” Casper said. “If you look at the products … it doesn’t look much different than Pop Rocks or Kool-Aid.”

Here’s the code the bill would add to the state’s laws:


It seems Palcohol is the big producer of powdered alcohol, which isn’t intended to be snorted but rather mixed with liquids to produce a traditional cocktail.

This reminds me of the debate over banning alcohol inhalers way back during the 2007 legislative session. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem was the primary force behind the bill, and supposedly these inhalers were going to become all the rage and lead to increased irresponsible use of alcohol because imbibing it this way allowed users to avoid hangovers, among other issues.

The proponents of the legislation made it sound like this was a terrible new threat, but according to data on the devices inhaling alcohol mist for 20 minutes was roughly equivalent of doing one shot of alcohol. Which kind of makes it seem like inhaling vapor alcohol was a bit more responsible than, say, slamming shots which is currently legal.

Which brings me back to this powdered alcohol issue. I can’t imagine this is something I’d personally want to use, but the fact is that we don’t really know anything about this product yet. Is it more dangerous than regular liquid alcohol? The manufacturers of the product say you can’t snort enough of it to get drunk, so what’s the big deal?

Are we really going to ban a product without any evidence that it represents a real public health risk?