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Powdered alcohol approved by federal government., banned in Virginia

Powdered alcohol approved by federal government., banned in Virginia (Image 1) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

RICHMOND (WSLS 10) - Four varieties of powdered alcohol - or palcohol - were approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, but Virginia won't be seeing the product any time soon. 

Palcohol is described as a powdered alcohol that can be sprinkled into drinks. As with other alcoholic beverages, individual states have the ability to independently regulate the sale of such products. And the Commonwealth is exercising that right.  

The Virginia State Senate unanimously passed a bill from Attorney General Mark Herring and Delegate Alfonso Lopez (49-Arlington) to ban the importation, sale, and use of powdered or crystalline alcohol in February. 

In a news release from the AG's office, Herring said, "We moved to keep this potentially dangerous product out of Virginia because we knew that federal approval was pending and it would be difficult to address the problem after the fact. I'm glad the General Assembly agreed it was the right move to protect Virginians, especially young people, because the risk of abuse and misuse is just so high with this product."

In April of 2014, the FDA briefly approved powdered alcohol, but quickly reversed the approval stating that it had been made in "error."

The Attorney General said the use of powdered alcohol presents a substantial risk for abuse, especially by young people, because it can be easily transported, hidden or consumed due to its discrete, compact packaging. He added that it could be sprinkled into to someone's drink without their knowledge, snorted through the nose potentially leading to brain damage, and could easily be over-consumed resulting in alcohol poisoning. 

Powdered alcohol is currently banned in seven states, with several other state legislatures considering similar measures.

Meanwhile, the manufacturer of palcohol, Lipsmark LLC, operates a website with information about distribution, consumption and frequently asked questions about palcohol. 

The website states, "there is not one compelling, verified reason to ban powdered alcohol."