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Alcohol-Candy Bill Divides Pennsylvania Legislators

May 10, 1986

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) _ Teen-agers could down it illegally at parties. Some enterprising youths might lurk in the shadows of state liquor stores, accosting adults to buy it for them.

State representatives raised such fears during a lively debate on the House floor. But the subject wasn’t six-packs of beer or bottles of booze. It was candy laced with liquor.

Representatives were debating a bill this week, which they eventually passed in a 133-67 vote, that would ease a 1909 food law so that chocolate candy with liquor could be made in Pennsylvania. The bill now goes to the state Senate.

The issue actually has important economic consequences - a company is vowing to open multimillion-dollar plant employing more than 100 people in east-central Pennsylvania if the measure is approved.

″Do we really need this kind of problem for the young people of Pennsylvania? ... Obviously, they will have access to this even though it is to be sold in the state store system,″ said Rep. Paul Clymer.

The law now allows candy to have only liquor flavoring. The legislation would allow candy to contain up to 6 percent alcohol. The product would be sold in state liquor stores.

Visions of teen-agers popping liquor-laced bon bons prompted some legislators to say alcoholic chocolate shouldn’t be allowed at a time when national attention is focused on alcohol-abuse problems such as drunken driving.

″Yes, there may be jobs, and yes, that may mean more dollars, but yes, also, there is the problem or the potential problem of the economic cost of alcoholism, which must be considered,″ said Rep. George Saurman.

″There would be no control. There is no prohibition to carrying a piece of candy in your lunch box,″ Saurman said.

But others said it was absurd to think teen-agers would turn to candy for a quick high. Rep. James Greenwood said someone would have to consume four to five pounds of the expensive candy to down the equivalent of one shot of liquor.

″A kid ... would die of obesity before he would contract alcoholism,″ said Rep. Kevin Blaum.

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