Maryland state bill threatens grain alcohols
The Maryland Senate recently passed a bill that would outlaw the sale of any beverage that is 95 percent alcohol – 190 proof – which includes grain alcohol, a staple at many parties on college campuses.
Everclear, a brand name grain alcohol, is a target of the bill. Another name on the market is Gem Clear.
The Maryland Collaborative, formed by 11 institutions from around the state including Towson University, has received funding from the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene to support the bill, said Donna Cox, director of the ATOD Prevention Center.
“There are two tactics of this bill,” Cox said. “One tactic is to intervene with peer education in the community and the other is reducing access to potent alcohol…this legislation will support the colleges.”
Because of the potency of grain alcohol, it is more of a threat to students versus other types of alcohol, Cox said.
Allison Frey, a drug and alcohol health educator at the Counseling Center, has conducted surveys on the use of alcohol among students. The surveys help determine where, when and how students drink, she said.
“There have been instances where grain alcohol does show up,” Frey said.
Cox said that grain alcohol is like any other alcohol—it impacts behavior, but when someone comes into contact with grain alcohol, it has a different, more serious affect.
“Your body can only process so much alcohol at a time,” Cox said. “Once it reaches the limit it can handle, and you keep feeding more and more alcohol into it, like grain alcohol, the effect is severe in a quicker amount of time.”
Cox and Frey both remain hopeful that the bill will pass, but there is a slight chance that it won’t make it through the Maryland General Assembly.
“We’ll see success when we can eliminate one alcohol choice from the shelf…but it just limits a drink, someone could just bring it here from another state,” Cox said.
Junior Lauren Parrinello doesn’t think the bill will put up a strong enough barrier.
A bill is not going to stop someone, she said. “If someone wants to get grain alcohol they’re going to find a way.”
If the bill doesn’t pass, The Maryland Collaborative will have the opportunity to reintroduce the bill.
“We care about our students,” Frey said. “This is our chance to raise awareness and to get people to talk…it gives us the opportunity to challenge ideas.”