A Minnesota lawmaker is proposing a moratorium on powdered alcohol in Minnesota following its federal approval this week for sale on store shelves by summer.
Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, introduced the bill in the Minnesota House Tuesday. It would prohibit the manufacture and sale of powdered alcohol in Minnesota until June 1, 2016, after the state’s Division of Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement and Commissioner of Health prepare testimony for committees including Commerce and Health and Human Services Regulatory reform to determine the safety of the product.
Powdered alcohol, known by its brand name Palcohol, is designed to mix with water to create a cocktail on the go in flavors like vodka, rum, cosmopolitan and margarita. The U.S. Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau just approved Palcohol, moving several other states to push for bans over fears that the product could be easily accessible to children. Palcohol has pushed back, saying the fears are unfounded and that their product of just-add-water alcohol was created for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts who don’t want to lug around bottles of liquor.
Atkins, who proposed an outright ban last session but withdrew the bill after he had a conversation with Palcohol staff, said this year’s measure is in part from concerns from parents and school board members in his southeast metro district. While he said he doesn’t intend to pursue a ban, he hasn’t ruled it out just yet.
“I could certainly go there if the evidence demonstrates it’s more harmful than beneficial,” Atkins said. “I just didn’t buy the line which was something like ‘I can take it hiking with me.’ I just think it’s silly. Not having to carry a bottle of alcohol with me will lighten the load, but I still have to carry the water that’s going to be needed. If that’s the best they can come up with I think they should try again.”
Atkins said he is confident the bill can get a hearing in the House Commerce Committee before Friday’s deadline. If not, he plans to introduce it as an amendment on the omnibus liquor bill.