Does This Mean Red Bull & Vodka Is Illegal Too?

Well, not exactly, but apparently when you mix two perfectly legal substances you make something illegal:

The White House on Wednesday threw its support behind a ban on beverages that infuse alcohol and caffeine.

Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske said he welcomed a ruling by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that would effectively ban drinks like Four Loko and Joost, which have come under scrutiny for their alleged role in several cases of alcohol intoxication on college campuses.

“These products are designed, branded, and promoted to encourage binge drinking, and I commend the FDA for acting promptly to curb their sale,” Kerlikowske said in a statement. “These drinks are especially unhealthy and dangerous because they combine alcohol and caffeine — and present a further concern when used by young people.”

So if we have to ban the alcohol and caffeine combination when its available pre-mixed in a grocery store, what about when you do it on your own?

This strikes me as profoundly, profoundly silly.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Alex Knapp says:

    This strikes me as profoundly, profoundly silly.

    I’d strike the “silly” and just go with plain “stupid.”

  2. Ken says:

    A government position so remarkably stupid that even Mr. John “I love to ridicule libertarians and libertarian ideas” Cole thinks that it is bullshit.

  3. Al says:

    Does this mean bars can’t serve Irish Coffee?

  4. PD Shaw says:

    “. . . have come under scrutiny for their alleged role in several cases of alcohol intoxication on college campuses.”

    I suspected there was a secret cause to the alcohol intoxication on college campuses. Problem solved.

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    I think it’s a little more complicated than this. A 4 Loko is 24oz. with a 12% ABV. That’s about three times the level of beer which means that you’re compressing a six-pack worth of alcohol in two beers worth of volume, adding caffeine so it doesn’t make you sleepy, and adding sugar so it appeals to young people without judgment and, er, developing survival instincts. My understanding is that a four-pack costs between $1.99 and $2.50. That’s pretty cheap, again appealing to younger consumers. Adding to the hype is an urban legend that drinking four of the beasts gives the same effect as cocaine.

    It won’t. It will just make you sick. And, depending on your size, it might kill you. I think some more debate over whether and how this stuff should be regulated is probably warranted.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    Does This Mean Red Bull & Vodka Is Illegal Too?

    No, but it should be on aesthetic grounds.

    This is the problem with kids today: they want to get drunk, but they don’t want to take the time to learn to appreciate the flavor of the actual booze.

    I fear for our nation.

  7. RGardner says:

    What about Mocha Imperial Stouts? Coffee Porters? Kahlua?

  8. Franklin says:

    I think some more debate over whether and how this stuff should be regulated is probably warranted.

    My initial reaction was that this rule was completely arbitrary. And to some extent I still think it is. But perhaps Schuler is right; I mean, there’s probably some limit here where it gets dangerous so fast that these kids don’t know what’s happening. I read elsewhere that the caffeine content is like 3 cups of coffee. Could drinking only four of them (for just 8 bucks!) cause a heart attack or at the very least palpitations?

    I think it perhaps would have made more sense to introduce a fairly simple formula, though, like you can have X total units of alcohol plus caffeine plus sugar, where there’s some weighting system (1 oz of alcohol is one unit, as is 10g of caffeine or whatever). This way, reasonable mixes could still be sold. But perhaps I’m getting too arbitrary here myself …

  9. TG Chicago says:

    My understanding is that a four-pack costs between $1.99 and $2.50.

    No, that’s a low estimate of the price of a single can. They don’t even sell these in four-packs. They used to sell Sparks in four packs, but I’m not sure if they still do (Sparks was pressured to remove the caffeine from their product about 2 years ago).

    I read elsewhere that the caffeine content is like 3 cups of coffee.

    The NYTimes says a can is about the same as 1 cup of coffee.

    The idea of making it illegal to sell a caffeine/alcohol drink is foolish.

    I could sort of understand the idea that selling a 24 oz can of 12% alcohol is potentially going to cause problems for unsophisticated consumers. That much booze is not “a” drink.

    And it’s pretty cheap, too. The alcoholic punch of that can is 23.5 oz x 12% = 282. The alcoholic punch of a fifth of 80 proof hard liquor is 25.6 oz x 40% = 1024. Let’s say a can of Four Loko is priced at $3. For the fifth of booze to be the same alcoholic/economic value, it would have to be less than $11.

    So they’ll still sell this super cheap, super boozy drink in a huge can, but it just won’t have the caffeine in it. So kids will still buy the stuff and sales of the 5-Hour Energy Shot will go up. Great solution.

    Tangentially related, here’s another great solution to a drug problem: potentially making Sudafed prescription-only in order to combat the meth trade:

    http://reason.com/blog/2010/11/16/speed-5-this-time-for-sure

  10. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Doug, don’t you understand that when you get people like Reid and Coons instead of O’Donnel and Angle this is what you get? Didn’t you know liberal know what is best for you and always have. They believe freedom is overrated and only for the elites anyway.

  11. Alex Knapp says:

    Well, not exactly, but apparently when you mix two perfectly legal substances you make something illegal:

    Not to be facile, because I agree that this is a silly ban, but I can think of several pairs of legal things that, when mixed, become illegal. Like bleach and ammonia, for example…

  12. Lewis says:

    I can think of several pairs of legal things that, when mixed, become illegal. Like bleach and ammonia, for example…
    Really Alex?
    I don’t think that a few irresponsible kids should ruin it for everyone.  You can get just as sick if you drink two 40s but you don’t see anybody attacking those.  The real key here is personal responsibility.  If you are irresponsible, it doesn’t matter whats in the can, it matters how much you drink.  Some dumb-ass that drinks 4 shots and 6 beers is just as irresponsible as the kid who goes and drinks 3 Four Lokos.
    Read what the kids did in the Washington incident that started it all. (I’ll give you a hint: it was more than just drinking Four Loko) http://www.phusionprojects.com/media_cwustatement.html