Sen. Elizabeth A. Crowley (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket) and Rep. David A. Bennett’s (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston) legislation (2016-S 2061 / 2016-H 8327) that makes the possession of an alcohol without liquid device a crime punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment has been signed into law by Governor Raimondo.
“Alcohol is a drug and like other drugs, new and dangerous forms of delivery are emerging,” said Senator Crowley. “Whether it’s in a powdered or vapor form, the potential for abuse, especially with children, is an ever present danger. This legislation will keep people safe from these new delivery systems where the potential to overdose is too great due to the public’s unfamiliarity with the product.”
“The danger is that the body has no natural mechanism to stop alcohol poisoning when alcohol is consumed in this way,” said Representative Bennett. “I think we are lucky there haven’t been any tragedies yet in our state with this kind of alcohol usage, and hopefully this legislation will prevent any from occurring in the future.”
The bills are a response to a dangerous new trend in which alcohol vapors are inhaled, through a variety of crude methods, such as pouring over dry ice and inhaling the fumes or “free-basing” with an open flame. These methods bypass the body’s normal processing functions through the liver and digestive system, and the vapors directly enter the blood stream and the brain instead. The process produces an instantaneous high, but without the body’s normal measures to protect from overdose. This form of alcohol imbibing has become popular with children and college students who do not realize the risks associated with “smoking” or “free-basing” alcohol.