In the backwash of a Federal Drug Administration ruling
this week that Four Loko
and other caffeinated malt liquors constitute a "public health concern," Oregon Liquor Control Commission
chairman Phil Lang met with the three largest distributors of the beverages in the state first thing Thursday morning. His request? Stop shipping any more of the candy-flavored canned drinks into Oregon.
The result? Lang told a public meeting of the OLCC this morning, "They have stopped bringing any more product into the state."
That wasn't enough to satisfy Judy Cushing of teen substance-abuse service Oregon Partnership. She asked the OLCC to order a recall of all caffeinated alcoholic drinks from convenience-store shelves. (Those drinks include the suddenly notorious Four Loko as well as concoctions produced by Portland-based brewer Charge Beverages Corporation, which makes Core High Gravity HG Orange.) "Oregon has a problem," Cushing said. "We need to get the alcoholic energy drinks off the shelves immediately."
Lang said a instant ban wouldn't be legal, and would cause stores to swallow the cost of the drinks. The manufacturers won't recall their products, he said.
"Those are small companies that are in the business to make a fast dollar," Lang said. "And more than likely, they'd go bankrupt."
Lang pointed to Washington's ban as a cautionary tale. "They had a run on the product in the state of Washington," he said. "And they have been sued."
Lang said the OLCC would investigate further restrictions on flavored malt liquors.
"Sweetened 12 percent alcohol, even without the energy supplements. I think is a dangerous product," Lang said. It's about the equivalent of drinking five or six beers, or a bottle of wine, and they're doing it in 15 [or] 20 minutes. I know if I did that...I'd probably be under the influence substantially."
He said the OLCC would seek stopgap measures to alert the public of the FDA's ruling. "In the meantime, we're going to try to get the retailers to put a sign up," he said. "Hopefully, that isn't an advertisement."