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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In reversal, bill banning powdered alcohol goes to Inslee

Chad Sokol Murrow News Service

OLYMPIA – A plan to legalize powdered alcohol is headed down the drain.

The Senate voted unanimously Thursday to ban the controversial product, which turns water into rum or vodka, just six weeks after voting unanimously to tax and regulate it like liquid booze.

The 180-degree shift was prompted by concerns in the House, where Rep. Jeff Holy, R-Cheney, rewrote the bill to outlaw the purchase, sale and possession of powdered alcohol statewide. That version passed the House with little resistance.

As the bill changed course in the House, Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, sponsor of the original plan to tax and regulate powdered alcohol, issued a statement that banning it was her “personal preference” all along. Safety concerns that led six other states to ban it apparently turned the tide in the Senate.

Powdered alcohol bonds hard liquor to an edible starch that can be mixed with water to make rum, vodka or a fruit-flavored cocktail. Sold under the brand name Palcohol, it recently received a sales license from federal regulators and could become available in some states as early as this summer, according to the company’s website.

Some lawmakers worried the small pouches of sweet powder would appeal to children. Others suggested a range of ways people could misuse the product, by inhaling it, spiking an unsuspecting person’s food or drinks, combining it with other alcoholic beverages or smuggling it into movie theaters and sporting events. Palcohol has rebutted those concerns in an effort to stop states from banning the product.

The bill was sent to Gov. Jay Inslee.

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