Several liquor stores near American and Georgetown University reported a surge in Four Loko sales Wednesday and Thursday. Foggy Bottom Grocery, near the George Washington University campus, also saw a bump in sales, said owner Kris Hart, who planned to pull the product from his shelves Thursday afternoon. He said he's opposed to the drink because it's clearly marketed to young people, who often don't realize that drinking a can of Four Loko is not like having a standard drink.
Hart said he carried the product so he could compete with the numerous other liquor stores near campus. "There was an absolute demand. Kids would come in for a four-pack of Four Loko, a case of beer and maybe some sandwiches," he said. "I'm thrilled that they are banning it. ... I know my competitors are stocking up on it just in case there's a run on it, just in case it becomes like Prohibition."
Why was the ban implemented? Well, the most popular flavor of the product is literally named "blackout in a can," yet it doesn't typically lead to an immediate alcohol-induced blackout. It leads to a lot more drinking:
In a series of high-profile incidents, dozens of college students have been treated for alcohol poisoning after overindulging in Four Loko and similar products, and several states and universities then banned the drinks. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) has been one of the most vocal opponents of the potent drinks, calling them "dangerous and toxic brews."
Experts say that the high levels of both alcohol and caffeine in the beverages create a "wide-awake drunk" that makes it difficult for people to realize how intoxicated they are and enables them to consume far more alcohol than they otherwise would without passing out. That puts them at increased risk for alcohol poisoning, engaging in such risky behavior as driving drunk and committing or being the victims of sexual assaults.
Still, a lot of people -- especially young people -- don't appreciate the federal government swooping in and banishing this product from public consumption. My buddy Mary Katharine Ham of the Daily Caller has organized a "Four Loko Freedom" facebook event, designed not to promote the (admittedly dreadful) brand, but to signal opposition to an overreaching federal government. Her tagline: Drink freely, but responsibly.