State senators have blocked an effort to ban a new type of powdered alcohol in South Carolina.
The move comes as the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau considers whether to allow a new product called “Palcohol.” The powder can be mixed with water to create a mixed drink. The agency is currently considering six flavors, including “margarita,” cosmopolitan, and “lemondrop.”
State Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, had tacked the proposed ban onto a separate billl allowing alcohol sales on Election Day. But several senators objected once the measure reached the floor Tuesday, saying the amendment violated Senate rules because it was not “germane” (relevant to the bill). Acting President Sen. Ronnie Cromer ruled the amendment out of order.
Martin said a state Department of Revenue advisory opinion noted that powdered alcohol would not be covered under state alcohol regulations. He said he worried that could lead to problems, similar to increased legal sales of “bath salts” and synthetic marijuana in recent years.
“The default position of South Carolina ought not be that… we’re going to have a lot of folks get harmed by it and then we decide how we respond to it,” Martin said on the floor Tuesday. “We have a chance to say ‘no’ up front.”
But State Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, said he thought an outright ban was an overreaction. “The real issue I think that’s before us is: do we want to ban it until we can figure out how to regulate it and figure out how to tax it?” he asked rhetorically. “Well, I’m not of the mentality that every time a product comes before us we’ve got to tax it.”
He also questioned if Palcohol was really a danger to teens, saying a buyer would still need to show they are over 21. State Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, raised the issue of germaneness a few minutes later.
Martin admitted the amendment was not germane, but said he tried adding it in a last-ditch effort to close a possible loophole should the product be approved this summer. The Statehouse will adjourn for the year starting next month.