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Washington Nixes Powdered Alcohol, Similar Oregon Ban Moving Ahead

Palcohol creator Mark Phillips pours the powdered alcohol equivalent of one shot of vodka into a glass in a promotional video on the company's website.

Pouches of alcohol in granular or powder form will not appear in Washington stores, nor at this rate in Oregon either.

With a flourish of his pen, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee imposed a ban.

The legislative measure prohibits the possession, sale or use of powdered alcohol for all but research purposes. Democrat Inslee said the potential for abuse by youth tipped the scales for him.

"I have to tell you, I did think about this, because it might have some utility and I recognize that," Inslee said. "But on the balance, I just think that protecting our children had to take precedence in this particular circumstance."

The Oregon Senate has passed a similar ban on what it calls "granulated alcohol." That measure is scheduled for a state House committee hearing next week.

The creator of the just-add-water vodka and rum, Mark Phillips, emailed a statement Thursday blasting the governor.

"By signing the law to ban powdered alcohol, Gov. Inslee is imposing his values on Washington, denying Washingtonians and Washington businesses the right to use this revolutionary new product," Phillips wrote. "Prohibition doesn't work... What was Gov. Inslee thinking?!"

In April, the powdered alcohol ban won unanimous approval from the Washington state Senate. It passed the state House 91-6.

Other states that have previously banned powdered alcohol include Alaska, Utah, Louisiana, Vermont, Virginia and South Carolina.

Powdered alcohol maker Palcohol pitches the lightweight, more portable, just-add-water form of liquor as potentially appealing to outdoors enthusiasts, remote resorts, military and travelers.

Palcohol says on its website that it expects the product to go on sale in states where it is legal this summer.

During the bill signing ceremony Thursday, Inslee also signed several other measures to make beer and wine slightly more accessible at licensed establishments. One gives grocery stores a new option to sell beer or cider in growlers.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.