Texas legislation moving to ban powdered alcohol

Texas+legislation+moving+to+ban+powdered+alcohol

Special to The Prospector

Alonso Moreno, Staff Reporter

The idea of bringing “powderitas” to outdoor activities or parties without the added bulk of a bottle might not become a reality as Texas looks to ban powdered alcohol.

A bill by state Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, would ban the sale and possession of powdered alcohol in Texas and was approved by The House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee  in March.

Powdered alcohol, also referred to as “palcohol,” is a powder that when mixed with water, soda, juice or other beverage turns into an alcoholic beverage. It is sold in a small pouch in an amount equivalent to a shot and is available in vodka, rum, cosmopolitan, margarita and lemon drop flavors.

During the committee meetings, Geren expressed concern about powdered alcohol and stated that it could lead to alcohol abuse.

“We have a new dangerous and intoxicating substance and it’s called powdered alcohol,” Geren said. “I don’t think it’s something that we need to have on our shelves at our liquor stores.”

The creator of powdered alcohol, Mark Phillips, claims on his website that he created the product in order to meet his needs of enjoying an alcoholic drink while participating in outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, camping and kayaking.

“It’s a bit funny to be honest, you barely hear about it in the news and the Internet, but before you know they are already trying to ban it,” said Africa Deleon, senior Spanish major. “I feel it’s a bit weird that you ban a certain form of alcohol and not question the other types.”

Although the product is meant to be a portable form of alcohol, establishments have sold and distributed similar products for a long time now.

“Powdered alcohol might just be a novelty in the sense of how it looks and is sold, but there are other forms of alcohol that are easy to carry around,” said Michael Farrar, a former nightclub general manager. “You have miniature bottles that are sold in liquor stores or given along with a drink so that you may do your own mixing. Next time you visit a liquor store, just look behind the counter and you will see all the options that currently exist.”

Products such as the Pocket Shot are among the alcohol items that are legal to sell in Texas and have been approved by the FDA.

In similar fashion, the pocket shot was created for those who love the outdoors or anyone who needs a cocktail on the go, with the mission of being designed to “satisfy your thirst for spirits on the go. With eight flavors, Pocket Shot offers the largest selection of premium spirits in a pouch on the market,” according to their website.

Critics of powdered alcohol point out that the portability of the product is what makes it such a danger and that minors will have an easier time concealing it.

“With pockets small enough to fit into a child’s pocket, it will be harder for schools and parents to identify and confiscate this substance from our youth,” said Grace Barnett, a spokeswoman for Texans Standing Tall, a nonprofit that advocates against youth drug and alcohol use, during hearings for the bill.

Those who have experience with underage drinking, however, point out that it’s not that hard to find ways to get alcohol. A former UTEP student “Louie,” who wished to not be identified, shared his story about smuggling and drinking in high school.

“It does not have to be portable or small, you just need to know a way to carry it around so that it’s not suspicious,” Louie said. “I used to find multiple ways to smuggle it to school and drink there. For example, if it was clear (the liquor), a simple water bottle could do the trick or you could mix it before you even showed up school.”

Louie also pointed out that getting alcohol is just a matter of finding the right person or simply being “sneaky” about it.

“There is always someone who knows a person or has an older sibling who can get it for you. Also, some homes just have a lot of liquor in them,” he said. “People collect bottles or miniatures (bottles) sometimes. A lot of people don’t realize that a miniature is gone unless they really pay constant attention to them.”

Although the source was caught and faced discipline for attending school in an inebriated state, he pointed out that what occurred could have had much more severe consequences.

“I was a dumb kid who got carried away, was not careful and eventually got caught because I reeked of alcohol, but the reality is that if I wanted to, I could have smuggled alcohol every day to schoo,” he said. “Some schools are just too big and are worried about other issues such as drugs. Like I said, it’s not hard.”

Geren’s HB 1018 would classify powdered alcohol as an illicit beverage, illegal to sell or possess in Texas. Currently, the bill has been filed, but has yet to be approved by the House or the Senate.

“The form does not matter, what matters is the people and if they want to drink they will eventually find a way. I certainly did,” Louie said.

Alonso Moreno may be reached at [email protected]