A pair of bills proposing the regulation of powdered alcohol in Texas have the support of the state’s medical association and a school group.
The Texas House of Representatives on Monday heard testimony about two bills that propose adding powdered alcohol to the codes regulating alcoholic beverages.
House Bill 133 would ban the product from being sold to underage children, said its author State Rep. Carol Alvarado, a Houston Democrat.
“This is a new product that is essentially alcohol in a powdered form that that’s very similar to Kool-Aid,” Alvarado said.
Because it’s a new product, it’s not defined by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
Alvarado also introduced a substitute to her bill that would add advertising restrictions to the product, require it to be sold in single-serving packages and tax its sale at the same rate as other types of liquor.
Another bill, House Bill 47, by Rio Grande City Democrat Ryan Guillen, proposes similar rules.
Both bills received the support of the Texas Parent Teacher Association, and the Texas Medical Association.
“Not acting to ban this product will increase in injury or death for our youth,” said Sheri Doss, the president-elect of the Texas Parent Teacher Association. “Our hope is that it will never be sold in Texas.”
When combined with water or another liquid, the powdered alcohol transforms into booze. The science to create powdered alcohol has existed since the 1970s, but it gained public attention in 2014 after the U.S. Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved labels for the sale of a brand of the powder called Palcohol.
Since 2015, 34 states have banned the sale of powdered alcohol, mostly at the urging of parent groups worried about potential abuse of the substance by teenagers. On Monday, Texas advocates compared powdered alcohol to products like synthetic marijuana, which are widely argued to pose health risks to consumers.
The Texas bills wouldn’t legalize powdered alcohol. Even if they did, the one company that advertises the production of powdered alcohol, Lipsmark LLC, says it does not sell the powder directly to consumers, but would sell its formula to other manufacturers.
In October, Lipsmark announced it would auction off the rights to manufacture its product on Jan. 1. The results of that auction have not been announced. The Palcohol website says the product will not be on sale anywhere “until at least summer of 2017.”
A spokesman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission on Monday said the agency would try to regulate the sale of powdered alcohol, if someone was trying to sell it in the state, even without being defined in the state statutes.
Chris Porter, a commission spokesman, said powdered alcohol would be regulated based on the type of alcohol in the powder. Vodka powder would be treated as vodka, he said. Beer powder would be treated as beer.
Texas considered a ban in 2015, but the bill was pulled by its sponsor after urging from former Galveston City Councilman Ralph McMorris, the owner of Lieutenant Blender’s Cocktails in a Bag.
McMorris has said he is interested in making powdered alcohol at his factory in Galveston’s East End Historical District. The building was once an ice cream factory for the Purity Ice Cream Company.
McMorris did not testify about the bill Monday. The only opposition came from a group of people who argued that the bills should go further, and place an outright ban on the sale of powdered alcohol.
McMorris didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The house committee left the bills pending.
The Senate Business and Commerce Committee is set to talk about a similar bill, Senate Bill 896, today.