Peter Franchot Announces Alcohol Industry’s Voluntary Ban of Powdered Alcohol in Maryland

Comptroller, Industry Join Together to Protect Public, Particularly Minors 

Annapolis, Md. (March 25, 2015) – Expressing deep concern for the health and safety of Marylanders, Comptroller Peter Franchot today announced that a voluntary agreement to ban the distribution and sale of powdered alcohol has been reached with the Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association, Maryland Beer Wholesalers Association and the Licensed Beverage Distributors of Maryland

“This product, by its very nature, presents a significant and untenable risk to the health and safety of Maryland consumers,” said Comptroller Franchot, who serves as Marylanders chief regulator of alcohol. “The likelihood of widespread Palcohol abuse – particularly among underage consumers – carries a real possibility of tragic consequences, which is why I’m so pleased by the industry’s unified response to protect the public from such a dangerous product.”

The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau recently approved several labels for Palcohol, a powdered form of alcohol that can be dissolved in a beverage and then consumed. It is expected to be in stores nationwide by the end of summer. Several states have recently passed legislation banning the sale of powdered alcohol.

“Powdered alcohol has the very real potential for abuse and it simply doesn’t represent the type of responsible consumption that our members stand for,” David Marberger, President, Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association. “We need to act now to protect the health and well-being of Maryland consumers. Every tier of the alcohol beverage industry stands together on this.”

Franchot expressed concern over misuse of powered alcohol, particularly by minors. In a letter to the alcohol beverage industry, he pointed out that the concentration or percentage of alcohol can be increased to dangerous and potentially life-threatening proportions by adding powdered alcohol to an alcohol beverage or by adding the powdered alcoholic substance to an already “activated” packet of Palcohol. The Maryland alcoholic beverage retailers and wholesalers quickly agreed to the Comptroller’s request for a voluntary industry-wide ban, expressing their shared concern for the danger that powdered alcohol poses to the Maryland public.

“The agreement ensures that this dangerous product stays off store shelves and out of the hands of minors and young adults,” said Betty Buck, president, Maryland Beer Wholesalers Association. “This is the responsible thing to do and the right thing to do. Our industry stands united in our commitment to responsibly act to protect public health and public safety.”

Comptroller Franchot brokered a similar voluntary ban of caffeinated alcoholic beverages with the industry in 2010 following several tragedies throughout the country that included the death of a Maryland teenager caused by drinks that mixed caffeine and alcohol at life-threatening levels.

“We rallied several years ago to successfully ban the distribution and sale of caffeinated alcoholic beverages because we recognized the harmful effects of these drinks,” said Jimmy Smith, president, Licensed Beverage Distributors of Maryland. “We will work with the Comptroller any time we can to help keep Marylanders safe from harmful products.”

“Once again, we’ve demonstrated an ability in Maryland to take quick and decisive action when the public interest rests in the balance,” Franchot noted. “I appreciate the willingness of Maryland’s distributors and retailers to step up in such a timely and socially responsible manner and address this urgent public health issue.”

Read the full letter from Comptroller Franchot.

Read the response from the Maryland alcohol beverage industry.

 
Media Contact: Michelle Byrnie-Parker, 410-260-6346 (office) and 443-336-0215 (cell)