ARDMORE, OK - It's been called "liquid cocaine" and "blackout in a can." The caffeinated energy drink called Four Loko packs a lot of punch for a small cost, but now officials in Oklahoma are banning the drink and others like it.
On Wednesday the Oklahoma Alcohol Beverages Law Enforcements commission put a moratorium or ban on the drink Four Loko and other similar caffeinated alcoholic drinks, and the state is now conducting a study to see what kind of effects these drinks can have on those who consume them.
John Miasch, general counsel for the Oklahoma ABLE Commission, says earlier this week the broker who represents Four Loko in Oklahoma decided to drop their representation of the drink, meaning they would no longer be bringing it in to the state.
"It was at that time that we decided to hit the reset button on the states approval of alcohol energy drinks," Miasch says.
The 23-and-a-half ounce Four Loko drink is estimated to contain as much caffeine as two cups of coffee and as much alcohol as five to six beers. Critics say the low price of the drink, costing between 2 and three dollars a can, makes it more attractive to young consumers.
"You're going to change the dynamics of your blood such that the alcohol effect will be greater on your body even though you might think 'I can normally drink 2 or 3 drinks and do whatever' you may only be able to handle half of that," Dr. Peter Chambers at Urgent Care of Ardmore says.
Dr. Conrad Woolsey, a health professor with Oklahoma State University-Tulsa, says the drinks can also have long-term harmful effects similar to binge drinking.
"Basically one can of Four Loko is binging. And again we're not sure how much is in the Four Loko, does it have 300 milligrams of caffeine or how much is in there," Dr. Woolsey says.
The ABLE Commission is launching a study on the effects of drinks containing alcohol, caffeine, taurine, and guarana. And health officials say because its unclear of all the effects the ingredients can have on the body when they're combined, it makes consuming the drink even more dangerous.
"Specifically in the ER, where there have been head-on collisions, people have died people, are damaged beyond repair, and I've seen that effect , and it's sad. Its difficult to deal with for families and for us."
After December 3, Four Loko and products like it will no longer be allowed to be brought or sold in the state, but any quantity of the drink that is already in Oklahoma can be sold or consumed.