Government Is Going 'Loko' Trying to Banning a Booze-Buzz Fusion Drink
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
I’m a cannabis consumer. I don’t drink much alcohol anymore; maybe a margarita at a Mexican dinner or a bottle of wine on the beach but never more than, say, a drink per month. Maybe that’s why I’m only now getting caught up on the phenomenon known as “Four Loko”.
For those like me who missed it, Four Loko is a 23.5 ounce can of booze with lots of calories and caffeine that’s popular with the young binge-drinking set. By “lots”, I mean that one can of Four Loko contains:
- 12% alcohol (like a sparkling white wine, which comes in a 25.36 ounce bottle)
- 260mg of caffeine (“ roughly the same amount of caffeine as a tall Starbucks coffee“, which is 12 ounces, but who really drinks “talls” when 20 ounce “ventis” are available?)
- Guarana and taurine (like a Monster energy drink, available in 23.5 ounce cans as well)
- 660 calories (like a McDonald’s cheeseburger Happy Meal and a Coke)
The company was started in 2005 by three friends at The Ohio State University (motto: “Don’t dare confuse us with that other Ohio State University!”) who obviously noted the popularity of “Red Bull and vodka” and “Jaegerbombs” among college drinkers. They took out SBA loans and in this awful economy created a successful company, created American jobs, and made many charitable donations.
But then, college kids got a hold of this new drug cocktail and, being invulnerable as they are at that age, misused it and were hospitalized. More horror stories followed, including a young healthy person who had a heart attack and the disturbing story about a brutal rape where the victim was forced to drink 10 cans of Four Loko! (What difference does it make whether packs of vile rapist scum force the victim to drink Four Loko or chocolate milk? Never mind, it was awful and Four Loko was there!) University of Florida studied the drinks and found they led to a fourfold increase in drunk-driving intent.
Next came the frenzy to ban the drink in state legislatures. Washington’s governor said the fruit-flavored drinks in bright-colored cans were just too appealing to young people. ”It’s no different than the kind of appeal that Joe Camel had to our kids when it came to cigarettes,” Gov. Christine Gregoire said. Today we get a lawsuit from Florida parents whose son partied for 30 hours straight, played around with a loaded handgun, and shot himself in the head… dead because of Four Loko! (Don’t you dare bring up easy access to a loaded handgun… Four Loko was there!) Now, bowing to what would surely be FDA action to force them to do so, the makers of Four Loko are removing the caffeine, guarana, and taurine.
The urge to prohibit when the youngsters discover the Next Drug Scare runs strong in the American people. Here we have what amounts to a ban on mixing two legal products. Nobody is calling for bans on energy drinks and certainly nobody is calling for a ban on “tallboy”-sized cans or fruity flavored alcohol. I can still buy Mike’s Hard Lemonade, a triple-serving energy drink, and a Double Quarter-Pounder with Cheese. But not a can of Four Loko?
The only thing this ban does is return young drinkers back to mixing the Red Bulls and vodka or rum and coke or good ol’ fashioned beer and coffee. Oh, and cripple a start-up company and probably end a few American jobs. Meanwhile, another popular drug choice for young people, cannabis, is not just banned for sale but also criminal to possess. Using it can end a student’s financial aid and college housing, a punishment not meted out for alcohol even when a student is underaged.