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Washington latest state to ban powdered alcohol

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington state is the latest to ban powdered alcohol under a measure signed into law Thursday by Gov. Jay Inslee.

The new law, which takes effect immediately, makes it a misdemeanor to possess, sell or use the substance except for research purposes.

Arizona-based Lipsmark LLC won federal approval March 10 to begin selling Palcohol, a pouch of powder that, when added with water, results in vodka, rum, or three types of cocktails and contains the alcohol content of a standard mixed drink. The company’s website notes its benefit for those who want to lighten their load while hiking or camping, as well as airlines. But opponents worry that it is easy to abuse and could too easily get into the hands of children.

Inslee said he did think about the issue and noted that he recognized the product “might have some utility.”

“But on the balance, I just think that protecting our children had to take precedence in this particular circumstance,” he said.

In an email Thursday, Palcohol inventor Mark Phillips said that by signing the measure Inslee was “imposing his values on Washington” by denying consumers and businesses the right to use or sell the product. Phillips also wrote that the state was missing out on significant tax revenue and that the ban risked making it easier for underage kids to get access to it since the state won’t have control over distribution.

“We learned that Prohibition doesn’t work,” Phillips wrote. “That’s why governments regulate alcohol to keep it out of the hands of kids.”

Washington joins at least seven other states that have prohibited powdered alcohol, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

More than two dozen other states have introduced bills this year to ban powdered alcohol, which was first patented in 1972 by General Foods but is not expected to be sold until later this year.

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