Jacob Sullum

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (who will soon join Schumer in the Senate) calls Four Loko a "witch's brew," and apparently it really does have magical powers. Although one 23.5-ounce container has less alcohol than a bottle of wine, news reports call it "blackout in a can." ABC News implies that a single can, containing as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, can trigger a fatal heart attack in a perfectly healthy person.

The New York Times reports that Four Loko, which features a drug combination familiar to fans of Irish coffee or rum and cola, "has been blamed" for causing a 20-year-old Floridian to shoot himself in the head. A CBS station in Philadelphia said a middle-aged suburban dad suffered "a hallucinogenic frenzy" featuring "nightmarish delusions" after a can and a half, while another CBS affiliate in Baltimore said two cans made a 20-year-old "lose her mind," steal a friend's pickup truck and crash it into a telephone poll. Under the evil influence of this demonic drink, the St. Petersburg Times reports, a 21-year-old in New Port Richey, Fla., broke into an old woman's house, trashed the place, stripped naked and took a dump on the floor.

Despite such alarming reports, the FDA did not conclude that alcoholic beverages containing caffeine, which are made by dozens of companies, are inherently unsafe. Instead, it focused on Four Loko's manufacturer and three other companies that "seemingly target the young adult user," who is "especially vulnerable" to "combined ingestion of caffeine and alcohol" -- and too dumb, apparently, to mix vodka with Red Bull.


Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
 
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