Rep. Joe Atkins Reverses Course: There's No Evidence of Powdered Alcohol's Danger


Mark Phillips, the mastermind behind Palcohol -- powdered alcohol -- probably feels like everyone's out to get him right about now.

His just-add-water booze novelty won't be available for mass consumption until February 2015, but lawmakers across the country are preemptively aborting it from liquor store shelves. Their reasoning: Folks are gonna start snorting it and kids will want to sprinkle it over their Wheaties.

See also: Here Are 10 Products for Sneaking Alcohol Into Concerts

Alaska, Delaware, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Vermont have bans. Ohio, New York, and most recently Colorado have jumped on board to consider doing the same. Minnesota's own Rep. Joe Atkins says he was one of the first lawmakers in the country to propose powder prohibition back in April, but he was also the first to set it aside.

The fact of the matter is, there's not a single shred of real-world evidence of Palcohol misuse, and most of these other politicians are being a bit hysterical.

"You can't point to a series of public safety risks, of people using this to sneak into events or that underage consumption is going up. I've just seen lawmakers make statements about it and none of them, as far as I know, have any hard data on which to rely," Atkins said.

That doesn't mean his proposed ban is off the table -- Atkins started researching Palcohol again this week in preparation for the upcoming legislative cycle. He just thinks an all-out ban requires more than speculation that people would want to subject themselves to an hour of painful snorting to achieve the same buzz as a single liquid shot. City Pages will pass on a first-hand experiment (for now) even if it is in the public interest, but by other accounts, taking powdered alcohol up the nose is really not a pretty sight.

Palcohol is now waiting on the FDA to approve a couple of labels before it can proceed to liquor stores. The FDA has already approved all in the ingredients in the actual powder.

Whether anyone would buy it is another matter. Palcohol creator Phillips says he's an outdoorsy guy who looks forward to having a drink after hours of biking and hiking, but he would so much rather carry a packet of power up to a mountain campsite than a fifth of whisky.

Atkins, an avid cyclist, has doubts that other athletes would want to drink mid-workout. "If that's your business plan, you're not gonna sell a lot, are ya? But if people have a dumb business plan, that's not in my purview," he said.

Send news tips to Susan Du.