Washington State bans Four Loko in wake of outrage

Sunday, June 9th, 2013 By

Rob McKenna

Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna advocated the ban of Four Loko from the state. Image: Janelle Guthrie/Wikipedia/CC-BY-SA

Washington State has passed a law banning the sale of alcoholic energy drink Four Loko, and similar beverages. A controversy about the danger of the drinks began after several students of Central Washington University were admitted to the hospital with alcohol poisoning. The students had consumed the drinks at a party in a small town near the college. Other states are restricting sales or considering bans as well.

Four Loko banned in Washington

After several Central Washington University students suffered alcohol poisoning after drinking Four Loko, the Washington Liquor Control Board has banned all such beverages, according to the Seattle Post Intelligencer. The ban, effective Nov. 18, includes all such products, not just Four Loko. Four Loko is a blend of malt liquor and highly caffeinated energy drink. Alcoholic energy drinks often carry an alcohol by volume, or ABV, of 10 percent or higher. By comparison, most beer in the United States has an ABV of 6 percent or lower. Wine typically has an ABV of 10 to 15 percent.

Aftermath of party fuels outrage

Several weeks ago, a number of Central Washington University students attended a party in Rosalyn, Wash., a small town near Ellensburg, Wash., where CWU is located. Rosalyn is best known as the filming location for TV show “Northern Exposure.” Nine students were hospitalized for alcohol poisoning. One had a blood alcohol content of 0.35 percent, which can be fatal. After the incident, Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna advocated the Liquor Control Board consider banning all malt liquor/energy drinks like Four Loko. Other states are taking hard lines as well. Montana and Utah have restricted sales to state liquor stores. Michigan also has banned drinks like Four Loko outright.

Maker disagrees with outrage

The maker of Four Loko, Phusion Projects Inc., disagrees with the outrage, and points out Four Loko wasn’t the only highly alcoholic beverage. Alcohol is a depressant, and caffeine is a stimulant, and combining the two can be dangerous. However, over-consumption of any alcoholic beverage can lead to alcohol poisoning.


Seattle PI

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