This seems like a reasonable approach, but we think it's a knee-jerk reaction based on unwarranted fear, especially given voters' decision to decriminalize marijuana.
Where's the logic? How can the state devise a system to sell something that's illegal under federal law (pot) but go out of its way to create a regulatory environment for something that already fits within the existing framework of laws controlling liquor sales?
The answer is because lawmakers fear alcohol in powder form poses some unheard-of problems. Would it make it easier to sneak alcohol into schools or public events? Will people try to snort it?
The manufacturer addresses these concerns on its website under the premise that powdered alcohol doesn't make irresponsible or illegal use any easier than liquid alcohol.
It's not easier to conceal. A package of Palcohol is 4 inches by 6 inches, almost five times bigger than a 50ml bottle of liquid alcohol.
It's painful to snort due to the alcohol. Plus, it's impractical. It takes approximately 60 minutes to snort the equivalent of one shot of vodka.
Palcohol doesn't dissolve instantly in liquid, making it difficult to surreptitiously spike a person's drink. It takes more than a minute of stirring to dissolve the equivalent of one shot of alcohol into a drink.
Minors can't gain access to it any easier than they can gain access to liquid forms of beverage alcohol. The manufacturer intended for Palcohol to be sold wherever liquid alcohol is sold and under the same rules.
The product comes in a pouch with a powder to which water is added for the equivalent of a shot of vodka or rum. Lipsmark, the company that owns Palcohol, says the goal is convenience. They tout potential uses on flights, on backcountry hikes and as an antiseptic in remote locations.
Indeed, Colorado's backpacking culture could make Palcohol a campfire favorite. But it's hung up in an overzealous nanny state before it can succeed or fail on its own merits.
The worst thing lawmakers can do is ban it outright. That doesn't seem to be their intent. A ban would not only be hypocritical, it would create a black market over which the state would have zero control.
A Senate committee voted 3-2 Tuesday to temporarily ban Palcohol. The House has already passed the bill. Let's hope the Senate exercises a little more sense during floor deliberations.
The Durango Herald, Feb. 26, on bait-trapping wild horses:
There may be no greater icon of the American West than wild horses. Thundering hooves on the wide-open ranges that give way to looming mountains evoke a nostalgia for the country's earlier years and the lore that grew from them. As with the mythology of the West, though, wild horses are a more complex issue than their imagery suggests.
As their numbers grow, their impact on public and private land multiplies, and managing them appropriately requires intervention. This can be done well or poorly; a proposal to bait-trap the animals leans toward the former.
The Bureau of Land Management Tres Rios Field Office is taking public comment on a proposal to use bait-trapping in managing the Spring Creek wild horse herd, which roams in Disappointment Valley, north of Dove Creek on the east side of the Dolores River. The proposal, submitted by the Colorado chapter of the National Mustang Association, which worked with the Four Corners and Mesa Verde backcountry horsemen groups to suggest the plan, acknowledges the need to control the horses' population but suggests that traditional round-up methods be replaced with a gentler approach. The BLM should heed the request.
Traditionally, wild horses in the Spring Creek Herd Management Area and elsewhere have been gathered by helicopter round-ups - an expensive method for the BLM and a traumatic event for the horses. The National Mustang Association finds that the last two Spring Creek Herd helicopter round-ups - in 2007 and 2011 - cost $937 and $2,400 per horse, respectively. Bait-trapping costs are $400-$1,700 per horse, according to the group's proposal.
As important, though, is the trauma that the animals endure when subjected to a helicopter round-up. The injuries and effects - both immediate and enduring - are damaging to the animals. Too many die; none need to.
Bait-trapping lures the animals into a slowly enclosing pen with a range of enticements. They can include salt, hay, water, or even a mare in heat. Once the baited horses enter the pen - on their own power, with no hovering helicopter - a gate is triggered. From there, it can be transported to a holding facility for treatment or permanent relocation.
While still a fundamentally jarring experience for a wild animal, this scenario is far less terrorizing than a noisy, dusty, frightening helicopter wrangling event. There is every reason to adopt the plan.
The proposal's proponents are clear in their commitment to the Spring Creek Herd's well-being and have been working with the BLM on sterilization efforts to reduce the herd's size over the long term. That work is slow to fully manifest but incrementally is decreasing the numbers of horses that the BLM must relocate using round-ups. There currently are no round-ups planned, but for those required in the future, baiting the horses is the correct approach.
The BLM is accepting comments on the bait-trapping plan through Saturday.