Efforts to add Colorado to the list of states with restrictions on powdered alcohol ran aground in the state Legislature last week.
Six states enacted regulations regarding the product, known as Palcohol, as of late 2014 even though it hasn't yet received approval from the federal government.
Palcohol, which is owned by Arizona-based Lipsmark LLC, allows consumers to add water or other liquids to pre-mixed pouches and create a cocktail on the spot. Its inventor said Palcohol would enable drinkers looking to pack light--such as hikers and backpackers--to imbibe without taking on much extra weight.
Numerous state lawmakers around the country, however, saw the potential for abuse.
"We know that kids do get their hands on it," said Colorado Rep. JoAnn Windholz, a Denver-area Republican. "They can order it online and the simple instructions are on YouTube. They do come in flavors and they come in colors and that’s one of the things that attracts children."
Windholz's legislation passed the Democratic-controlled House without opposition. In the state Senate, however, lawmakers amended the bill to establish a regulatory framework rather than a ban.
Last week, House leaders moved to delay consideration of the amended bill. Some lawmakers said the new language rendered the bill pointless, while others said legislation with the word "ban" in the title should actually ban something.
Supporters in the House said since the ban would have disappeared upon federal approval anyway, the amendment didn't change much. They also said the added regulations would prevent a legal scenario in which retailers could "theoretically sell this to 15-year-olds."
The drama in Colorado is just the latest in the debate over powdered alcohol. Twenty-six other states are also considering legislation to restrict the substance as a decision at the federal level remains pending. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration indicated it does not have a legal basis to block the product.