Powdered alcohol drink additive gains federal
approval, but alarms prevention community


A new alcohol product poised to go on the market is causing new concern among Washington legislators, prevention groups and public agencies that deal with substance abuse issues and the regulation of alcohol sales.
 
The federal Alcohol, Trade and Tax Bureau’s approval of ‘Palcohol’ – a powdered alcohol drink that will be marketed in four flavors – could be on Washington store shelves as early as this summer unless the Legislature takes steps to halt its sale.
 
The five states that have already enacted a ban include Alaska, Delaware and Vermont. Minnesota, Ohio, New York and Colorado are also considering bans. Legislation that unanimously passed the Washington Senate to align powered alcohol sales with existing laws governing the liquid form has now moved onto the House for consideration. Senator Pam Roach, sponsor of Senate Bill 5292, said she now wants to amend the legislation to include an outright ban and has the support of Gov. Jay Inslee to do so.
 
“I am convinced this product could cause harm, even death, to a child if a beverage is spiked with it. There is no way to judge potency with a powder. The goal is to put a bill on the governor’s desk that will protect our children as much as possible. He agrees with me that a total ban is necessary to protect the health and safety of Washingtonians,” said Roach.
 
Brian Smith, spokesman for the Washington State Liquor Control Board, said the federal approval essentially labels the product as a distilled spirit and as such no additional regulation by the LCB would be needed for it to go onto the market and that the agency could not do so without direction from the legislature.
 
Even so, the LCB “is concerned about the safety of powdered alcohol because it is easily concealable as potentially attractive to minors. We are vetting options with legislators and the Governor’s Office as to next steps.”
 
The Washington Healthy Youth Coalition (WHY), a partnership of state agencies and non-profit organizations concerned with alcohol and marijuana use among youth, has drafted a position paper expressing several concerns over the sale of powdered alcohol, including:
 
  • The ease by which it can be hidden and taken into venues such as sporting events, schools, restaurants, etc.
  • The susceptibility to being used in/on other products, e.g. sprinkling it on food.
  • The potential for young people to snort it.
  • The appeal to kids, based in part on the above factors and in part on youth-appealing flavors (such as Lemon Drop, a Palcohol flavor described on the Palcohol website).
The WHY paper encourages the public health community to become familiar with the issues associated with powdered alcohol, and consider how they should be addressed within the state of Washington.
 
Meghan Sullivan, executive director of the Thurston County substance abuse prevention group TOGETHER!, said the four proposed flavors and product packaging are naturally appealing to youth. Cosmo and margarita are sweet and may appeal to kids and teens, she said. The product will be marketed in shiny silver pouches and, in powdered form, it becomes “reminiscent of candy.
 
“It’s kind of new and “exciting” like e-cigarettes,” she said, noting that a recent survey of Washington youth shows that e-cigarette youth has increased substantially over the past two years.

Washington Healthy Youth Survey
Alcohol, tobacco use down among teens;
marijuana, e-cigarettes of concern

Fewer teens consider marijuana use to be risky according to results from the state Healthy Youth Survey. State leaders are concerned because research shows that when the perceived risk from using substances goes down, substance use typically goes up. More results from the survey, conducted of 200,000 students statewide last October, are on the Department of Health's web site.


Implementation of Washington's I-502: A progress report
 

By Steve Freng
Northwest HIDTA Prevention/Treatment Manager

The previous edition of this newsletter closely followed the full implementation of the production, processing and retail sales of marijuana and marijuana-infused products in Washington State. On July 8, 2013, the first five retail stores opened, offering products legalized and produced for persons 21 years of age and older under the auspices of Initiative 502. Much has happened since that date, with several recent events and ongoing developments detailed as follows.

Marijuana: Senator Joe Fain breaks it down


(Please see this page for full article).












Seattle broadcaster Penny Legate shares story of lost
daughter in hopes of setting record straight about addiction

In a moving, personal story, former Evening Magazine host Penny Legate talks openly about her daughter Marah's addiction and ultimate death due to an overdose of heroin. Legate was recently the featured speaker at a day-long Heroin/Opioid Overdose Summit in Seattle, was a guest on KIRO Radio's Ron and Don show, and is the subject of a recent article on MyNorthwest.com.


Journalist shares story of lost daughter





Mentioned in the Media

International Business Times
The "medical" in medical marijuana still a misnomer
While it’s been handed out to more than a million so-called patients in 23 states, marijuana bears no resemblance to anything else in their medicine cabinets. Its use is not well-regulated or -understood, and states have done a poor job of tracking what, exactly, is being doled out at its dispensaries, a new report in the International Business Times concludes.

Washington Post
In Wash. state, a 10-person team toils
for the government — selling pot

The North Bonneville Public Development Authority sells recreational marijuana through its newly opened Cannabis Corner operation, employing 10. It was established to draw tourists to the otherwise "drab" town and with hopes of spurring the local economy, according to a story in the Washington Post.


Seattle Times
Seattle launches pot-prevention effort aimed at teens
Community groups in Seattle are launching a citywide effort aimed at preventing use of marijuana and other drugs by teens, Gene Johnson of the Associated Press reports. With support from the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, the campaign aims to spread positive messages that most kids don’t use drugs or alcohol. The messages, which also ask parents to talk to their kids about marijuana, are being displayed on nine billboards around the city, some of them donated by Clear Channel Outdoor. Read the full article in The Seattle Times.


Bellingham Herald
Alaska becomes third state to
approve legal recreational marijuana
Alaska on Tuesday became the third U.S. state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, but organizers don't expect any public celebrations since it remains illegal to smoke marijuana in public. In the state's largest city, Anchorage police officers are ready to start handing out $100 fines to make sure taking a toke remains something to be done behind closed doors. Read more in a report by the Associated Press via the Bellingham Herald.

Seattle Times
Mexican opium farmers expand
plots to supply US heroin boom
Much of the lucrative opium market to U.S. begins in the poppy fields of southern Mexico. Local farmers feel they have no choice, according to an Associated Press article in the Seattle Times. 

 

Office of National Drug Control Policy