Buzzy Booze Banned


Yesterday the Michigan Liquor Control Commission banned caffeinated alcoholic beverages such as Four Loko, Joose, and Smirnoff Raw Tea. The ban gives retailers a month to get rid of 55 products the commission calls "alcohol energy drinks." The complete list is here (PDF). The State News reports that "the commission decided to ban the [products] because of multiple recent news reports about the dangers and consequences of the drinks." Behold the power of yellow (or, in this case, maybe lime green) journalism! In addition to the over-the-top ABC piece I noted last week (which implied that healthy young men are dropping dead from heart attacks after their first can of Four Loko), the prohibitionist advocacy disguised as news reporting has included a front-page New York Times story headlined "Caffeine and Alcohol Drink Is Potent Mix for Young."

Michigan's liquor regulators explain that they have the authority to arbitrarily prohibit these products because "the commission exercises complete control of the State's alcoholic beverage traffic" and "may disapprove any beer label submitted for registration that is deemed to promote intemperance, or intoxication, or to be detrimental to the health, safety, or welfare of the general public." They say products like Four Loko (which are classified as beer because their alcohol comes from fermented malt) are intolerable because "the packaging is often misleading" and "the products themselves can pose problems by directly appealing to a younger customer [and] encouraging excessive consumption, while mixing alcohol with various other chemical and herbal stimulants." They cite no real evidence to support these conclusions, and I'm not sure we should take the word of liquor regulators who think alcohol is a stimulant.

I noted the FDA's interest in buzzy booze in the March issue of Reason. Greg Beato analyzed the Four Loko freakout in the April issue.

[via The Huffington Post]

NEXT: New York, Arkansas...You Know, the Midwest

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  1. Please remove this report. It makes us all look bad when someone takes a poorly worded sentence from the counter side and tries to make it look like a telling point. While I disagree with them, these guys clearly know that alcohol is not a stimulant. This is simply a poorly worded sentence. Acting as though this was a telling point is simply juvenile. ’nuff said.

    1. It also makes us look bad when you request deletion of an entire article because one phrase rubs you the wrong way.

      1. Said for effect. I assumed the author would realize that deleting the phrase would enhance the article.

        Also, you are incorrect. It does not make us look bad to correct our own mistakes; by our own choice, I might add.

      2. No word yet on how tulpa ofttimes skews the view of the Reason demo…..

    2. The board was referring to caffeine as the stimulant, so they were being accurate in respect to these drinks.

  2. Want to know how college kids and teenagers are going to react to this?

    Pass that shit!

    1. My first reaction to this was that it is going to damage the collegiate careers of many a student. Most of my best papers in my college years were written during all nighters fueled by cans of Sparks. In fact, the only time I drank Sparks was while writing papers. Besides, its so frigging pointless unless they’re gonna ban the sale of red bull and vodka in the same transaction too…. wait, I shouldn’t give them ideas.

      1. Or bourbon and coke.

        1. Rum and coke, irish whiskey and coffee, etc

      2. Four words:

        Chocolate covered coffee beans.

  3. “may disapprove any beer label submitted for registration that is deemed to promote intemperance, or intoxication, or to be detrimental to the health, safety, or welfare of the general public.”

    Under that definition, they should all be disapproved. I guess it’s all in the deeming. But who shall deem the deemers?

  4. Michigan’s California’s liquor marijuana regulators explain that they have the authority to arbitrarily prohibit these products because “the commission exercises complete control of the State’s alcoholic beverage marijuana traffic.”

  5. In related news, Michigan becomes even less fun than before. It’s California, only with brutal winters and far fewer movie stars (although the film subsidies are trying to change the last bit).

    Oddly enough, it looks like they’re only concerned about malt beverages with caffeine… other caffeinated alcoholic beverages (i.e. hard liquors like vodka) appear unaffected by the ban. Skip the Four Loko, pass the Volta Vodka, I guess.

    1. pass the Volta Vodka

      V-o-l-t-a V-o-d-k-a.
      Thank you for bringing this to our attention, comrade.

    1. That link turned out to be almost exactly what I was expecting it to be…

  6. The ban gives retailers a month to get rid of 55 products the commission calls “alcohol energy drinks.”

    Glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug. Ahh!

    1. No, no, no…. the scream at the end should be more like:


  7. I remember I drank a few ‘Sparks’ in college and it did not take more than 3 or 4 before I said:’Damn, this shit is not for me’ and never combined energy drinks and alcohol again.

    Until an election night party where someone had FourLoko and I gotta say, those things are tasty. I will definitely pick a few up, although I don’t really like when my heart is racing while I’m intoxicated. Plus, it was created by someone local so I’d like to show some support.

    Later I found out I was partying at the house of Libertarian congressional candidate that I voted for when he walked in the door! (Accompanied by a pretty statue of liberty of course!) Awesome and spontaneous!

    1. I want to go to your parties.

      1. It’s good to be King.

  8. Moronic isn’t strong enough for this. Are they going to make the addition of Kahlua to espresso drinks a felony?

    Oh, wait, this is Michigan, right?

    1. I had no idea you were a girl drink drunk.

        1. It refused to pop up. I’ll try that later. Is that the video of Hulk Hogan exposing his dick to his daughter?

          1. No, I missed that one. It’s another KITH skit.

  9. It would be extremely nice if Smirnoff was really ran by Russian mob interest instead of being allegedly tied to them. Imagine what it would do for the cause of smaller, less intrusive government if the Commissar’s heads were delivered to their loved ones in ice blocks. The silence from the liquor nannies would be deafening. I double dog dare you Rusky mobsters. Have at them!

  10. I’m gonna have one with my Happy Meal.

    1. I die a little every time Ballerina Princess eats an apple wedge in that McDonald’s commercial. It’s a Goddamn disgrace.

  11. End of the Times story:

    “I’ve talked to parents who were shocked because the can was in their refrigerator and they didn’t realize it was an alcoholic beverage,” Dr. Reihart said. “It looks like every other energy drink out there.”

    I can’t piece together a scenario where they don’t know what it is and they’re shocked to find it and it looks like everything else and it got there without them and shocked them with what it is, which they don’t know and can’t tell. And then they tell this dude?

    What the? Why? How does this even…


    1. Not me!

    2. It’s a pity they didn’t try it and during the ensuing panic attack, induced by the legend of depressant/stimulants causing your energy to SWING UP while at the same time SWOOSHING LOW like a ROLLERCOASTER!* because that is what People magazine (informed by lying drama queen drug experimenters) told them happened to Heath Ledger, their hearts exploded.

      *I’m a neural simulation of Alfred Bester so sue me.

  12. I am a Commissioner of Control
    I’ve half a mind to save your soul
    Whatever I deem’s how I roll
    I’m your Commissioner in Control

    1. It’s a gateway drink donchano!

  13. OMG! Speedballs will probably be next.

  14. This is called “justifying your existence”.

    If the officials at the liquor control board didn’t periodically target something for prohibition, people might start to wonderv why they have jobs.

    Thus, we get informed about the terrifying scourge of alcoholic energy drinks and the urgent need for the government to intervene to save us from the pernicious temptation and social ills they will visit upon us if they do not.

  15. On the other hand, I’d rather have these guys spending their time outlawing these drinks than spending their time trying to erode some more essential freedom.

    I wonder – would it be a useful thing to produce moral chaff to confuse their moral radar?

    Oh noes! those dirty corporate types are selling “iron kittens”, a torture device wherein kittens are placed inside a box and when the lid is closed the spikes go right through the poor little kitten! It’s big business, and it’s all the rage with tweens, who hold secret “iron kitten parties” where they get underage kittens high on catnip and let musty old beagles molest them while the students burn an American flag and practice Satanic rituals, before sacrificing the kittens in an orgy of violence while they stream video of the event on the internet right down to the kitten’s last, painful breath! Politicians, I appeal to you, do something to stop this twenty billion dollar per year industry right nao!!!

    You haven’t heard about it? That’s because it’s SECRET! Hurry!!!

    1. Thread winrar. +9001

      1. +9001? His comment is ISO certified?

        1. Oh god. You’re not my QA chief, are you?

    2. Yes, but then eventually people will be all like “What? But we regulate the color of underpants so why can’t we fix the price of gasoline!!??”

    3. When you’re not looking, I’m both regulated and deregulated at the same time.

  16. Those Michiganders seriously need to get laid or something.

    1. They are copying ‘Frisco. They will end up being the Midwestern Singapore. Chewing gum is next.

  17. The disease is spreading!!!

    I saw a headline today that the equivalent prohibition board here in Oklahoma is going to ban this stuff, too.

  18. Look. If i want caffeine when I’m drunk…wait, i never want that. So ummmm, what? STFU, that’s what.

  19. Top story today in my local paper, page 1, above the fold? This drink may be too ‘Loko’
    The expert they turned to for an assessment of this menace? A professional “community organizer” with a balanced, rational take on the issue. To wit:

    If it’s dangerous and young people are the most at risk, they shouldn’t be selling it. We should not have products like that that folks can utilize and damage themselves. I don’t see the social significance of it.

    How does somebody manage to say that kind of shit sober?

    1. Why do you assume they’re sober? Dont you know your cliches about newspapermen? The guy just got drunk without caffeine, the way Jesus intended, and the way that’s socially significant.

    2. I always choose my drinks based on their social significance, so this is valuable information.

  20. Nope. No excessive arbitrary and stupid regulations to see here. Move along.

    These dumbasses draw a goddam taxpayer funded paycheck to promulgate ignorant nonsensical crap like this. Does anyone think the FCC, FDA, or SEC is different in kind?

  21. Didn’t Reason’s most famous face have a tv show on ABC one time? Wasn’t it a sitcom set in Cleveland? Didn’t the main character create a beverage that was caffeinated beer? Why wasn’t there ever an episode of that show where a stuffy bureaucrat tried to get Buzz Beer banned? Why wasn’t The Drew Carry show more libertarian?

  22. *burp*
    Next time, ban caffiene-induced candies and nicotine gums and all beverages which has above 5% alcohol content…One way of helping its people,is it? cheers to you..*burp*

    We help Americans find jobs and prosperity in Asia. Visit for details.

  23. If the little dears don’t get throwing-up-I-wanna-die-sick drunk, how are they ever going to learn?

  24. Forget about mixing alcohol with caffeine. I’m more worried about my local bar mixing alcohol with dihydrogen monoxide!

    I know they are doing it. When they mix their alcohol with dihydrogen monoxide, people can stay up much later drinking. They often tend to overestimate the BAC and brag for hours on end to their friends about how much liquor they can hold.

    Then when they encounter drinks that are not spiked with dihydrogen monoxide, they get far drunker than they ever intended.

    So why aren’t the busybodies on the Michigan board going after folk who mix alcohol with dihydrogen monoxide? It shouldn’t be hard to find a passel of experts who will give them the requisite “quotes from experts” needed to sway the public.

    1. Pope Jimbo,

      By any chance are the initials of your pseudonym related to another name you use (not sure if that was a birth name or not)? I’ve heard a variation of the same argument by such a person.

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