ABC Chair Jim Gardner likes powdered alcohol ban

RALEIGH – When Gov. Pat McCrory signed the ABC Omnibus Legislation bill into law Friday, the big winners were craft distilleries and breweries, fans of growlers, and guests of certain golf courses. The big losers were those who would have liked the convenience of powdered alcohol. Jim Gardner, chairman of the N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, supported one part of the bill but did not take positions on the others.

“We took a strong stand in support of the ban on powdered alcohol,” Gardner, the former Congressman and lieutenant governor said. “Powdered alcohol presents serious new public health and safety concerns, especially with regard to potential underage consumption,” said Gardner.

Gardner said that concerns form public health, public safety and government officials include misuse, easy concealment, and overuse. Officials caution that powdered alcohol could be snorted or mixed with other alcoholic products, secreted into any number of places, and placed surreptitiously into the food or drink of unsuspecting victims.

Jim Gardner (R) – Chairman of the N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission

The ABC chief, who was appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory in 2013, also noted that if powdered alcohol were mixed with alcoholic drinks, it “would create the potential for a dangerously potent beverage that does not have an easily understood percentage of alcohol by volume equivalent.”

The powdered alcohol provision was the only part of the bill on which Gardner or other commissioners took a position. On the provision that allows distilleries to sell one bottle of spirits to a customer once a year, Gardner said it was “too soon to tell what impact that might have on retail sales in ABC stores or in other states.”

Some have questioned whether the distillery sale provision opens the door to privatization. Gardner would not say whether he agreed with that or not, saying that the commission “will work, as always, to implement the laws.”

But Gardner did express support for North Carolina brewers, winemakers, and distillers.

“In recent years we have seen our craft winery, brewery and now distillery industries take root and thrive,” Gardner said. “We support this home-grown success.”