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Massachusetts Restaurants Want to Ban Palcohol

The restaurant association in the Bay State wants to outlaw the powdered spirit.

Palcohol inventor Mark Phillips
Palcohol inventor Mark Phillips

Bad news for the Palcohol lovers out there (you are out there... right?): according to this article from Boston Business Journal, the Massachusetts Restaurant Association is set to call for a ban on the powdered tipple. Massachusetts is not alone in calling for a ban on Palcohol, which is a trademarked name owned by Lipsmark LLC. Many other states have voted to ban or are considering banning the product; Alaska, Delaware, Louisiana, South Carolina, Vermont and Maryland have banned the sale of Palcohol. Other states, like New York, are considering bans.

Palcohol's website offers a spirited (no pun intended) defense of the powder, claiming various medical, commercial and industrial applications, in addition to recreational use. Palcohol's primary argument for allowing legal distribution is that:

1. Psychological studies show that when something is banned, it creates a heightened demand. We want things we can't have. More people drank during Prohibition than before Prohibition and more people drank to excess. By banning Palcohol, it will make people want it even more.

In an interview, Massachusetts Restaurant Association head Bob Luz said "We're generally not pro-mandate. We just think it's the right thing to do...We go to great lengths to responsibly serve alcohol in our restaurants. We just think there's an inherent danger with powdered alcohol."

Eater spoke to the association's Director of Government Affairs, Steve Clark, who said efforts were being to reach out to state legislators, and that any expectations that the association would exercise any remarkable influence on the Massachusetts legislature should be tempered. "We don't make the laws," he said, "and the process of a bill becoming a law is a very slow one."

But Clark reiterated the association's support for an outright ban on Palcohol. Clark maintained that "it would be very easy to sneak a powdered alcohol into an event or function facility. It's harder enough keep smaller amounts out, but if you have powdered alcohol, it would make it much easier." Clark also spoke to the risks that applied to restaurants, bars, and clubs: venues where customers could potentially sneak in Palcohol and become inebriated by it. If that happened, Clark said, the operator would assume all the risk if that customer then left the venue and hurt themselves or others. "There's also underage concerns for the function facilities," Clark maintained. "Like at a prom or something, it'd be very easy to sneak in."

In an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun, Palcohol inventor Philips disagreed: "Liquid alcohol is easier to conceal, easier to spike drinks with, easier to use to binge drink and much less expensive than powdered alcohol," he wrote.