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Regulators say powdered alcohol is illegal in Massachusetts

A powdered form of alcohol is off limits for sale in the state, regulators warned on Thursday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A powdered form of alcohol is off limits for sale in the state, regulators warned on Thursday.

The Alcohol Beverages Control Commission issued the advisory two days after a federal regulatory agency, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, approved Palcohol, a condensed form of alcohol that is intended to be mixed with water into drinks.

"The sale of powdered alcohol is prohibited in Massachusetts, and for good reason," said state Treasurer Deb Goldberg, whose office oversees the commission. "Our first priority is to protect the health and safety of our residents, especially children."

Powdered alcohol does not meet the definition of an alcoholic beverage under state law, thereby making it illegal to sell, import or manufacture in the state, regulators said.

Critics say the product would be easier than liquid alcohol to conceal and take into public events and could be used to spike drinks.

Powdered alcohol could be appealing to teenagers, and there was potential for it to be accidently misused by people who were unaware of its potency, Goldberg said.

The company that makes Palcohol hopes to have it available for sale by the summer, according to its website. It says there's "not one shred of evidence" the product will be used or abused any differently than liquid alcohol.

Palcohol founder Mark Phillips says he came up with the idea because he wanted a way to enjoy alcoholic drinks after hiking or other activities without having to lug around heavy bottles.

The federal bureau approved four products, including powdered versions of a cosmopolitan, a margarita, vodka and rum. But regulators note that states have the power to regulate alcohol sales in their borders.