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Doctors, Sheriffs Unite Against Powdered Alcohol in Michigan

LANSING, MI -- A powdered alcohol known as "palcohol" has been approved by the federal government, but members of Michigan's medical and police communities said today it could spell trouble.

"We feel that powdered alcohol equals big trouble in a small packet," said Dr. Brad Uren of the Michigan College of Emergency Physicians, and President - Elect of the Washtenaw County Medical Society.

Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, and Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet, have introduced legislation in each chamber that would ban the sale and possession of powdered alcohol in Michigan.

"The kids are already looking forward to having this product. They talk about it coming in packets like Kool-Aid," Jones said at a press conference on Tuesday.

The makers of Palcohol, which got federal approval in March, say it's safer than liquid alcohol.

Allegan County Sheriff Blaine Koops

"Liquid alcohol is easier to conceal, easier to spike drinks and easier to use to binge drink. It's much less expensive and allows someone to get drunk faster, both which appeal to the underage drinker," reads a statement on Palcohol's website.

The advantage of Palcohol, its makers say, is that people can carry the lightweight substance with them on outdoor activities like hikes. Airplanes could also carry the lightweight powder to save on fuel costs and it could also serve as a medical antiseptic in remote locations, makers say.

But those working to ban the product in Michigan say it would be easier for young kids to conceal and people to sneak into bars or other venues.

Allegan County Sheriff Blaine Koops, who is also part of the Michigan Sheriffs Association, said the product was dangerous.

"This is probably the most reckless and dangerous product that I've seen introduced in my tenure as a public safety officer. There's no redeeming quality for this product," Koops said.

Allegan County Sheriff Blaine Koops speaks at a press conference in support of bills that would ban powdered alcohol in Michigan.

According to Michigan Alcohol Policy, a group that promotes health and safety, Michigan would join six states that have already banned the powdered alcohol: Alaska, Louisiana, Maryland, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia. Another 23 states, including Michigan, are considering bans on the product.

In Michigan, the bills that would ban it are House Bill 4416 and Senate Bill 240.

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