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November 18, 2010


Updated/Edited: Nov. 19, 2010: 8PM

College students called it "Black-out"! An alcoholic beverage sold under various brand names has now been banned by the FDA, and is allegedly illegal in the state of NH.

According to latest news, the NH Liquor Commission has ordered all alcoholic beverages containing both alcohol and caffeine to be pulled from the shelves of retailers. Several companies which produce these "manufactured beverages" have been ordered to cease production. The names of these products is not relevant to this topic, the decision to do so is.

Several studies have, in my opinion correctly concluded that these beverages are potentially dangerous - in that use of these beverages "mask the level of intoxication" by users; particularly women and thin people with little resistance to the effects of alcohol. The facts conclude that the mixture of alcohol and caffeine into a marketable drink is dangerous. The user(s) may become intoxicated without the cognitive ability to recognize the danger they are exposed to, nor the risk to society; especially when driving a motor vehicle, or in situations involving interpersonal relationships.

These conclusions I have no doubt are legitimate. However the ban by the FDA and criminal penalties by states that have made them illegal are complex. Not only the impact to companies that make these products, but in addition, potential infringement on personal freedom. The laws are vague, and also quite sudden.

The essential facts are this.

Manufactured alcoholic beverages containing both alcohol and caffeine are potentially dangerous. Thus the ban and the alleged laws prohibiting such beverages.

The problem:

Alcohol is a manufactured product. It has to be processed from organic compounds and fermented/distilled. Manufactured beverages combining the two products, alcohol and caffeine are bottled, and packaged in a way that makes them appealing, along with similarly appealing advertising.

Recent regulations target this marketing practice are, in good faith. However, no distinction can be made between these beverages, and similar combinations involving alcohol and caffeinated soft-drinks, alcohol and coffee or the combination of alcohol and caffeinated over the counter substances.

This means, potentially, if you consume or possess any of the above you are, potentially, violating the law. You are technically subject to arrest. Also, it further entices youth, for whom experimenting with "drugs" is common, an open invitation to experiment with combinations of alcohol and caffeine (tablets) to mix them for the "black-out buzz".

The recent and sudden ban on such products is alarming. It is an advertisement as big as any bill-board can be.  A recipe for yet another dangerous fringe drug combination/mixture based on individually legal products.

The fact that such a ban and alleged laws were imposed with such rapidity suggests a failure of regulators to understand the consequences of their actions. Why were such bans/laws put in place so quickly? If in fact such a combination are dangerous as described, considerable thought and legislative action should have been pursued first. The manufacturers may have been quietly contacted and urged to cease production.

It is my opinion, the FDA, the NH Liquor Commission, acted irresponcibly  in invoking these regulations. They have created a dangerous situation!

Typical... and I hope, a opportunity to for people to question the minds of those who make the rules and laws in this country.

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