The Maryland Senate approved legislation Monday night imposing a moratorium on the sale of powdered alcohol for the next two years.
The 45-2 vote sends the legislation to the House, which is considering a measure that would impose a moratorium for a year and a month. The two chambers would have to agree on a single approach before the measure could become law.
Public health officials have raised concerns that the new product known as Palcohol -- recently approved for sale by a federal agency but not shipped to Maryland -- poses a danger because of its potency and the possibility it could be mixed with alcoholic beverages instead of with water. The officials contend it could easily lead to abuse and could be used as a date-rape drug.
Comptroller Peter Franchot recently reached an agreement with the Maryland liquor industry to observe a voluntary ban on distribution of the product. Franchot has said he welcomes the effort by legislators to write the moratorium into law.