Joe Podelco/Lantern Photographer
It’s been called many names, but the ones that stick out are “blackout in a can” and “liquid cocaine.” The state of Michigan just banned it. Schools in New Jersey and Washington are eliminating it from their campuses. Northeastern University warned its students about the dangers of the drink after an 18-year-old freshman was found by the police, heavily intoxicated. Is Ohio the next state in line?
Four Loko comes in an eerie and tantalizing neon-colored 23.5 ounce can. The biggest temptation is the price. It’s no secret that many college students like to get as drunk as possible on the least amount of money. Four Loko provides that service with a little extra punch.
Police officers all over the country are becoming familiar with the symptoms and are on the lookout for people under its influence. I’m getting the feeling that people are forgetting that this is alcohol, not crystal meth. There have been statistics that connect higher crime rates to the beverage, which you could find for any substance if you looked hard enough. People do stupid things when they’re under the influence of anything.
We students aren’t stupid. We know that we shouldn’t mix caffeine and alcohol. Obviously we’re young so we believe we’re invincible. We know the dangerous effects of a “wide-awake drunk,” but it’s ultimately our own choice.
Four Loko is nothing more than a scapegoat for the media and for law enforcement everywhere. They need a crusade, and this is it. Some states will ban the drink, like they’ve done with Everclear and absinthe, and other states won’t because it wouldn’t make that much of a difference.
If the problem is underage kids getting their hands on it, that indicates an issue completely unrelated to Four Loko. If the problem is the dangerous mix of caffeine, taurine, guarana and alcohol, then maybe Red Bull and alcoholic mixed drinks should get banned as well.
My point is, people will find ways to get incredibly blackout drunk and stupid. Banning one drink won’t solve that problem. If states get rid of Four Loko, another drink just like it will pop up in its place in a couple years. Sparks came before it and Spykes before that. It’s a never-ending cycle.
I ask, what happened to freedom of drink? If you ban one alcoholic beverage, ban them all. Otherwise, leave them alone. Let people choose how they want to spend their evenings, whether it’s dancing on a bar or passed out on a toilet.