Four Loko: Too Much Buzz for the Fuzz?

Those who have uttered the fateful words, “it was a Four Loko night,” know the serious power of this cheap and devious drink that has been referred to as “legalized liquid cocaine.”

Finally those who regulate the nation’s alcoholic consumption are taking notice. Michigan’s lawmakers outlawed all varieties of the drink (such as Joose and other brands) starting Dec. 4.

Four is an alcoholic energy drink that is distributed by Phusion Projects LLC of Chicago, Illinois. The Four brand has two variations of the drink: Four MaXed and Four Loko. The brand’s name is taken from its four main ingredients: caffeine, taurine, guarana and alcohol.

Four Loko was originally designed by three Ohio State University alumni in 2005, and has been popular on college campuses nationwide. Along with collegiate praise, the beverage has been challenged by ethical, health and state officials for its effects.

Though the drink’s alcohol content ranges from state to state (6 percent in Indiana and up to 12.5 percent in Ohio), the drink’s alcohol content levels are staggering. According to national averages, a single 23.5 oz. aluminum can offers a 24-proof buzz equivalent to consuming three 12 oz. beers, a standard size Red Bull and a shot of espresso. The same amount will single-handedly put any consumer over the legal driving limit.

States have taken action against Four Loko is several cases. Michigan’s regulators have launched a review of all nine of the product’s flavors, and have demanded the clear labeling of all ingredient content levels.

The Food and Drug Administration is also currently investigating whether the drink is too harmful for further sale in 29 states.

According to the Associated Press, even a spokesperson for the Alcohol Beverage Control Association, Steven Schmidt, has commented on the drink’s dangers.

“These products have higher levels of alcohol content in them, higher levels of caffeine in them,” Schmidt said. “There’s a lot of concern about whether combining these two is a good idea.”

This product is undeniably dangerous. However, the upper-downer combination has been abused long before the creation of this disgusting drink. Elvis Presley, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe and The Beatles are only a few personalities who have openly practiced similar substance combinations (and had the same heart-rate as a hummingbird). Some of these famous users paid the ultimate price for their buzz.

Banning the sale of this drink is a responsible move, but cannot be mistaken as the end of consumers mixing conflicting substances. The same effects are obtainable by using countless alternative ingredients, it’s as easy as pouring a 5-Hour Energy into a Whiskey Sour.

So, are all caffeine/alcohol combinations unhealthy? Yes. Subsequently, an Irish coffee will cause astronomically less harm then mixing chemical drugs, or adding unnatural stimulants such as taurine to depressant products.

Those who choose to continue drinking Four products should stock up now. Soon a criminal charge may accompany a “Four Loko night” as sure as a hangover.