Alcohol Energy Drinks That Were Banned in Michigan Are Now Back

Four Loco is one type of malt beverage previously banned in Michigan now reinstated.

Recently I was contacted by Undersheriff Mike McCabe from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office regarding a post on their Facebook page that a person had sent them asking if a local party store was selling alcohol energy drinks that she believed to be banned.  That party store is actually in Auburn Hills so he sent it over to me for follow up.  What we found is that although this type of drink was banned, the manufacturers have changed the formula in a way that makes it now legal.

These drinks are very popular among young people college age and younger.  Four Loko is one kind of these drinks.  Joose is another.    You might remember that back in November of 2010 the Michigan Liquor Control Commission these banned alcohol energy drinks because of the combination with stimulants.  Well, they are back.   In 2011 they were permitted back in Michigan because they no longer contained stimulants like caffeine but they still are loaded with alcohol.  While we can agree that they were previously worse – some studies show that stimulants mixed with alcohol impair judgement worse than alcohol alone, I can’t say I think they are particularly safer right now because of the alcohol content in one can and the marketing that is clearly targeting young people.  The label says that one 23.5 oz can ( a normal sized beer is 12 oz) contains 4 servings but it is a non resealable can.  At least the Federal Trade Commission has now made them change their packaging (as of Feb. 2013) to make it clearly show the alcohol content which is 12%.  The FTC challenged a claim by the company that each can is the equivalent of 1 to 2 beers —  the FTC argued that each can is the equivalent alcohol content of 4 to 5 beers. 

Google this product or one similar to it and you’ll find that they are marked to the young crowd as a fun and cheap way to get drunk.

I’m concerned about it but it has been approved for sale in Michigan.

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I'm the Chief of Police for the Auburn Hills Police Department.