Four Loko, alcoholic energy drinks banned

The colorful camouflaged cans of Four Loko and other alcoholic energy drinks will vanish from Michigan shelves within the next month, following a ban passed by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission on Wednesday.

Manufacturers have 30 days from Thursday to get rid of the products — those containing not only alcohol, but caffeine and occasionally other energy additives like guarana and taurine — from Michigan markets, commission spokeswoman Andrea Miller said. Consumers still will be able to possess the drink, since the commission does not have control on out-of-state transactions, but it cannot be purchased in the state, she said.

The commission decided to ban the substance because of multiple recent news reports about the dangers and consequences of the drinks, Miller said.

“The popularity of these drinks are increasing among college students and underage youth,” Miller said. “They felt it necessary that this product should be banned in Michigan until further research.”

Utah already has banned alcoholic energy drinks, Miller said.

Since Spartan Spirits, 221 Ann St., began stocking Four Loko in early summer, its popularity has increased, said Michael Mansour, the co-owner and manager. He said he goes through 25 cases of 12 cans every week, and sometimes more.

“It does have a noticeable growth in sales, and it was something I had to consistently order more throughout its time here,” Mansour said.

Not as popular as Four Loko, the store also carries Joose, another alcoholic energy drink that is included in the ban. Two other drinks, Sparks and Tilt, formerly included caffeine as well as alcohol, but no longer contain the energy additives.

Although the ban will not significantly affect their sales, Mansour said he does not think the ban will be effective because students will still choose to combine alcohol and caffeine regardless of whether they’re packaged together.

“If they can’t get it prepackaged in one unit, then they’ll buy it separately and mix it themselves,” Mansour said. “They’re going to do it, whether they package it that way or not.”

Although she has heard frightening reports about the drink, comparative cultures and politics senior Claire Psarouthakis said she wonders what the state hopes to achieve by banning the drink.

“I’ve heard pretty scary things, like they make you super drunk or they’re not good for you,” Psarouthakis said. “I would like to know what the state’s intentions are in banning them.”

New drinks always are popular among students, so a new alcoholic beverage likely will soon replace Four Loko’s niche, Mansour said.

“In this market, we are always changing and staying on top of what our students’ appeal is,” Mansour said. “We are constantly staying up on what’s the latest, greatest newest product, so something will come out.”

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