It’s accused of hospitalizing nine freshmen from Central Washington University. Gangsters from New York City allegedly forced a gay man to chug it while he was being tortured. And it tastes almost as nasty as its reputation.
It’s the alcoholic energy drink Four Loko. And its pervasive presence in the news lately has resulted in warnings and proposed bans from across the nation—including Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna’s call to prohibit sales in the Evergreen State.
But here in Oregon—where the caffeine-infused drink with 12 percent alcohol is sold statewide—most government and health-care officials are far less alarmist.
Emergency-room doctors from Oregon Health & Science University and Legacy Emanuel Hospital say they haven’t noticed an uptick in alcohol poisoning from the energy drink. Unlike his counterpart in Washington, Oregon Attorney General John Kroger isn’t taking a position, says his spokesman, Tony Green. And Theresa Marchetti from Portland’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement didn’t return a phone call about whether alcoholic energy drinks would be included in the city’s proposed alcohol impact area.
Two organizations in Oregon have come out against Four Loko and other high-octane energy drinks. The nonprofit Oregon Partnership has called for a federal ban (PDF). And the Oregon Liquor Control Commission says it’s “reviewing options” (PDF) to address public-safety concerns.
Meantime, Four Loko’s presence in the culture continues to grow.
There’s no dearth of YouTube videos of people chugging the stuff.