State regulators may discuss the idea of banning an alcoholic beverage linked to the hospitalization of a Drake University student. Lynn Walding, administrator of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division, says the five-member Alcoholic Beverages Commission will probably address the dangers of Everclear during a meeting on Thursday.
“In light of what happened at Drake recently, the commission is debating looking at the issue further. So, it will come under examination I believe – whether or not we should be listing and carrying that product in the state of Iowa,” Walding said. About six months ago, the commission banned a 190-proof Everclear, but said it could remain on store shelves until the supply was exhausted.
Most of the Everclear sold in the state now is 151-proof, nearly double the typical 80-proof vodka. “I think one of the things the commission is going to look at is who actually uses Everclear? Is it something the mainstream audience does or does it tend to be marketed toward college students who are just learning how to drink,” Walding said.
Everclear is a relatively tasteless and odorless beverage that is usually mixed with another drink. On November 8, 19-year-old Nathan Erickson of Durant was hospitalized after reportedly drinking Everclear as part of a fraternity hazing. Two members of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity at Drake were charged by police with hazing and the fraternity’s charter was revoked on Monday by the university.
Walding says Everclear was banned in Iowa for “quite some time” prior to its deregulation in the 1980s and it may be time to revisit the ban. “I think it’s always appropriate to look at the issues and this is certainly something that I think deserves attention,” Walding said. “Not to say that it’s created a lot of issues out there, but every now and then, there’s an issue about Everclear and how it’s inappropriately consumed.”
Erickson’s blood-alcohol level, when he arrived at the hospital, was nearly .50. He was released from the hospital the next day. Walding says the Alcoholic Beverages Division is trying to find out what kind of Everclear was used in the alleged hazing incident. That information was not included in the police report.