November 5th, 2010
08:48 AM ET

Michigan bans alcoholic energy drinks

Michigan has banned the sale of stimulant-laced alcoholic beverages.

[Update 3:30 p.m. November 8, 2010] Michigan's liquor police won't have any trouble getting Smirnoff Raw Tea off store shelves; the product from Smirnoff, whose slogan is "Be There," hasn't been there for a year.

Smirnoff parent Diageo said it took the product off the market for commercial reasons in 2009 and should not have been included in the Michigan Liquor Control Commission's ban last week of all alcohol-fueled energy drinks.

And besides, Diageo said, it never marketed Smirnoff Raw Tea as an energy drink, nor does it promote any of its products as having "energizing, stimulating or invigorating properties." Just the regular properties that alcoholic beverages have.

[Original post] Michigan's Liquor Control Commission has banned the sale of alcohol energy drinks such as Four Loko, the caffeine-enhanced brew that sickened nine Central Washington University students at a party last month.

The commission issued the ban Thursday and gave retailers 30 days to clear 55 named products from their shelves. Among the brand names are 808, Joose, Smirnoff Raw Tea and Max.

"The commission's concern for the health, safety and welfare of Michigan citizens and the fact that there is not enough research to validate that these products are safe for consumption has made me believe that until further research is done by the [Food and Drug Administration], they should no longer be on Michigan shelves," commission Chairwoman Nida Samona said in announcing the ban.

A typical can of alcohol energy drink is 24 ounces and has a 12 percent alcohol content, compared with a 12-ounce can of beer, which normally has an alcohol content of 4 percent to 5 percent, the commission said.

Four Loko maker Phusion Projects told the Chicago Tribune that its 23.5-ounce product contains about the same amount of caffeine as a Starbucks tall coffee.

The ban mentions other stimulants, including taurine, guarana, ginkgo biloba and ginseng.

Critics say that the stimulants keep drinkers from passing out, allowing individuals to drink to the point of poisoning themselves.

But Phusion Projects contends that people can easily mix caffeine into their alcoholic drinks themselves.

"People have safely combined caffeine and alcohol for years: rum and colas, Red Bull and vodkas and Irish coffees are standard fare in bars and restaurants everywhere," a company statement said.

Phusion Projects, based in Chicago, Illinois, noted that three of the liquor commission's five members took part in the vote and that only two of them voted for it. The company also complained it was not allowed to defend itself before the order was issued.

"The commission's precipitous and ill-conceived action, if allowed to stand, will adversely affect many businesses in Michigan, including ours, and will deprive the state of millions of dollars of tax revenue," Phusion Projects said.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board also recently proposed discouraging liquor distributors from handling alcohol-caffeine products.

Post by:
Filed under: Health • Michigan • U.S.
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Gilbert

    I like Bud Light and Corona, as well as Miller Lite, Coors light and Natural Light. I can have 4 Natural Lights and I'm fine, but after 4 Miller Lites I am sleepy and about knocked out.

    November 5, 2010 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  2. Gilbert

    Oh, I forgot, I also just love Moose Head beer. Very tasty dry beer. Not easy to find as it is imported from Canada, Hey.

    November 5, 2010 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  3. m4loko

    just another instance of the gov. knowing what is best for you.

    November 5, 2010 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Get Real

      they are not banning a "beverage" they are banning a drug...good riddance that product is a serious health risk. You should be happy the state values the well-bring of its citizens over corporate profits.

      November 5, 2010 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • jerry

      anothr instance where they are trying to save lives not to control people

      November 5, 2010 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Dayana

      Just another example of nanny state tyranny forced on us by liberal puritans. Obviously we're all too stupid to exist without the government telling us what to drink, eat, smoke, or watch. If they ban this where I go to university, I'll protest by having a party where we'll dissolve pure caffiene tablets in a mixture of Jack Daniels and vodka... and that would still be legal.

      November 6, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      I'm an extremely staunch liberal, but do not support this law. The drinking age of 21 is in place to help ensure that people are old enough to make an informed decision about the use of alcohol; people (especially college students) are still going to be stupid. Banning one drink just means they will:
      1. Get it out of state
      2. Get a similar thrill out of mixing two drinks.
      3. Do something worse.

      As for all the "bleeding heart liberal" comments, this is just anti-alcohol groups flexing their muscle.

      November 10, 2010 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  4. m4loko

    hopefully they will outlaw ovens so we will not get burned.

    November 5, 2010 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Get Real

      4loko aka for locos...only fools and the uninform would use this product.

      November 5, 2010 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  5. Gerry

    Outlaw hard liquor too because it contains more than 10% ABV and college students are at risk of drinking too much.

    November 5, 2010 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  6. K3LLY-0N-D3CK

    im wit u on bannen tha oven part. maybe thy will take our tv's n cars

    November 5, 2010 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  7. WhiteKong78

    It's understandable they'd want to prevent certain problems, but I'd say they would need to ban the sale of Red Bull drinks, and any other mixed drinks with caffeine. It's the same as banning cigarettes in bars, yet allowing cigars to be smoked. It would also help if the media didn't publish that all these kids were drugged without their knowledge prior to knowing what caused the hospitalizations. The first article I read about the party stated that rohypnol was spiked into a bunch of girl's drinks. Unfortunately alcohol poisoning will still be happening because stupid college girls can't hold their liquor. Now kids will have to go back to the more expensive red bull mixed drinks.

    November 5, 2010 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Get Real

      And what of the stupid college boys?
      Yield to natures call about beasts with bright colors...they're deadly poisonous. The ban is appropiate and other states should be hopping on the same band wagon.

      November 5, 2010 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  8. Cesar

    I am Cesar

    November 5, 2010 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  9. CollegeGurl

    Heyyyy! I can hold my liquor... Yay! My first taste of freedom away from home. How many frat boys can I bang in one weekend??? Hmmm....

    November 5, 2010 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Get Real

      How stupid, in your comatose state, the reality is you bang no one and you become the horse frat boys ride to the sun rises over the dark horizon.

      November 5, 2010 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  10. al

    This is ridiculous. half of these people getting sick arent even of legal age to drink... That is not my fault... sorry they cant hold their liquor..WHICH IS WHY ITS ILLEGAL in the first place. I dont feel like I should have to be told what I can and cant drink. They are harmless if you can handle your drinking. There are way worse things in the world going on.

    November 5, 2010 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  11. @Al

    You can solve much of the problems if stiffer penalties were given to those supplying the booze to underage drinkers. I've known parents who allowed their kids to drink and smoke. There are also a number of legally aged young men who are eager to party with the new crop of naïve underage girls, so they supply the booze in hopes of getting lucky.

    November 5, 2010 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  12. @Al

    Get real... College boys aren't being assaulted by sociopaths at frat parties.

    November 5, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  13. j rob

    What about eggs? More people get sick from raw eggs than alcohol..

    November 5, 2010 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  14. WhiteKong78

    Exactly get real then the girl is all scarred and unable to have any normal relationship again

    November 5, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  15. WhiteKong78

    I prefer sober "relations"

    November 5, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3