November 10th, 2010
01:51 AM ET

Washington may ban 'blackout in a can'

The Washington State Liquor Control Board will vote Wednesday on whether to ban the sale of alcoholic energy drinks in the state after a drink that some call "blackout in a can" sickened nine college students.

Last month, nine Central Washington University students were hospitalized after an off-campus party.

The students said they got sick after drinking "Four Loko," a caffeinated malt liquor also known as "blackout in a can," according to a police investigation.

Investigators concluded that none of the students were drugged or given alcohol without their knowledge, according to a school statement.

The findings convinced university President James Gaudino to ban "alcohol energy drinks" from his campus.

"We need to make sure that we're sending a strong message to students about the dangers of alcohol energy drinks, and we need to know more about the way it affects health and behavior," Gaudino said.

The drinks are "a binge-drinkers dream because the caffeine and other stimulants allow a drinker to ingest larger volumes of alcohol without passing out," the chairman of the school's physical education department said.

"Being able to feel the effects of tiredness, loss of coordination and even passing out or vomiting are the body's defenses against consuming doses of alcohol that will kill you," professor Ken Briggs said last month. "Regardless, once the blood alcohol level reaches a certain level you can drop like a box of rocks."

Police found the underage students passed out and "very intoxicated" at a party attended by about 50 students in Roslyn, Washington, on October 9, the police report said.

Each students consumed "Four Loko," while some mixed the canned drinks with other alcohol, including vodka, the report said.

Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna has called for federal food regulators to ban the beverages.

"They're marketed to kids by using fruit flavors that mask the taste of alcohol, and they have such high levels of stimulants that people have no idea how inebriated they really are," McKenna said. "They're packaged just like non-alcoholic drinks, but include a dangerous dose of malt liquor."

The maker of "Four Loko" - Phusion Projects of Chicago, Illinois - said the company is doing "all we can to ensure that our products are consumed safely and responsibly."

"The unacceptable incident at Central Washington University, which appears to have involved hard liquor, such as vodka and rum, beer, our products, and possibly illicit substances, is precisely why we go to great lengths to ensure our products are not sold to underage consumers and are not abused," a company statement said last month.

soundoff (124 Responses)
  1. Roger Cannon

    It is NOT packaged like a non-alcholic beverage. This "blackout in a can" label was created by the prude who stumbled into a college party and found "very intoxicated" and "passed out" students. This is news to the prude who has never been to a college party. It must have been this prude's first day outside of his bedroom. It's funny how this claim of "hospitalization" holds no further explanation. You know why? Because said prude rushed a bunch of those kids to the hospital and was told to go home cuz "these kids are just drunk".

    November 10, 2010 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  2. Smelly Ol' Pete

    I gave your mom four of these, then pounded her for three days straight. It's the only way she would let me in the back door.
    Legalize Everything!
    Anarchy Rules!

    November 10, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  3. mttrailboss

    'Ban' the damn stuff. How could this stuff get pass the United States, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ?? What if someone did die or has already died.., would you serve the stuff at your home, apartment, bar or party ? A party is suppose to be 'fun'.., not send someone to the hospital. My college parties were 'fun' and there were a few that had simply to much to drink and it came up and or passed out or sleeped for awhile. Nothing serious or to get bend out of shape about. However.., this stuff is different, you could 'die' from it. Wouldn't want to do, 'binge' drinking with this stuff, it could be your last ! Mike in Montana

    November 10, 2010 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  4. Wild Hurricane

    If you cannot handled a regular old-fashioned alcoholic beverage as it is, then you shouldn't drink at all.

    November 10, 2010 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  5. Old Scout NCO

    "We need to make sure that we're sending a strong message to students about the dangers of alcohol energy drinks..." Gaudino said.

    Didn't this incident just do that. Is he telling me that his students are too stupid to learn from this incident. If that is true. I doubt a ban will prevent these incidents.


    November 10, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SAM


    November 10, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Blade

    "Investigators concluded that none of the students were drugged or given alcohol without their knowledge, according to a school statement."

    If no foul play was involved and they knew they were drinking alcohol, clearly it's their own damn fault for consuming so much. If people are stupid enough to drink that much that quickly. It's their own damn fault.

    November 10, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bard

    I like to drink gasoline, maybe we should ban that.

    November 10, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. rottie78

    I live in a well known college town & I see the effects of students getting trashed on EVERY form of alcohol.Banning alcohol won't do a thing. The only thing that will make any difference are a severe set of consequences, something worse than a monster hangover. Expulsion, being arrested. Arrests do happen every now & then but not often. Consequences like these would make at least some think twice.

    November 10, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. tj

    Get a life! Ban a drink?? You might as well ban bacardi 151!! then you might as well ban thunderbird, orange driver, 211 steel reserve, sparks, and then all the other energy drinks...Then ban stores for having jagermeister to close to redbull cans!! lol you guys make me laugh, you guys should tighten your belts one more notch...

    November 10, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. living in arizona

    I am a manager of a c-store and after watching the first broadcast I did a little demographic in my store. Most of the customers purchasing the Four Lokos are under the age of 25, the above 30 age bracket seemed to try the drink once, but went back to their regular beer purchases. I pulled it from the shelves voluntarily. Those who say that college age students shouldn't over indulge obviously can't remember being that age.

    November 11, 2010 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jacob W. Ranney

    I live here in North Carolina and I love to drink Four Lokos they are the best party drink because it gives you a different kind of drunk, one that drinking beers and or wine couldn't do. My roommate and I started to collect our Four Loko cans about three months ago and now we have over four hundred cans! Four Lokos are the same concept as beer and wine it just depends on how stupid the consumer is. Four Lokos are just like guns you use them in the wrong way and you could pay the consequences of your actions. Just because there are a handful of stupid people who drink and go crazy at college parties doesn't mean responsible people can't enjoy them. Remove the small handful of people and you have nothing wrong just another drink! Four Lokos are one of my favorite drinks and sure they can make you go crazy but, I have a record of consuming eleven Lokos in an eighteen hour period. I even grabbed a fresh Loko and cracked the seal and chugged the entire Loko and I'm here perfectly fine and unharmed. I drank a lot of Lokos but in the end I didn't black out or lose my mind I chilled at the party I was at and I was just really drunk. Moral of the story don't punish the innocent one's who know how to drink punish the college kids for being stupid and blacking out! JWR

    November 12, 2010 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Amen. I love four lokos and have had MANY great experiences. I've seen ppl down stupid ammounts of them and be completely fine afterwards. I myself am a terrible drinker, so 3 or 4 MAYBE 5 and I'm hammered out of my mind but still completely fine. It's a great AWARE type of drunk. With beer or liquor you are completely out of it.

      November 17, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Michael

    I am a weekend drinker and I know one thing for certain, if you drink too much of ANYTHING you will get sick. I have been drinking four lokos every weekend for about 2 months and I have never had an experience that differed form any other type of alcohol. I am supremely dissappointed to hear they have been banned where I live. You should always read what you drink before you drink it, I have had upwards of 4 four lokos and as long as you dont go any higher you ahould be fine. Blackout/ memory loss? Yes haha, but like I said nothing "regular" alcohol wouldn't do.

    November 17, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bob

    Yeah because Red Bull and Vodka is such a hard drink to make on your own.... Banning this drink will not solve anything.

    November 17, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. diet shots

    Howdy are using WordPress for your blog platform?
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    July 3, 2013 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
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