Recently, a rising number of teens and young adults appear to be going loco for Four Loko. But a recent ban on the alcoholic energy drink in Michigan will interrupt the craze for this controversial drink. A Michigan Liquor Control Commission order, signed on Thursday, prohibits the sale of 55 types of alcoholic energy drinks in the state, including Four Loko. With two of the commission’s five members absent, the ban passed 2-1. While the drinks may prove to be dangerous, the MLCC’s decision skipped procedural steps necessary to implement a statewide ban. The MLCC should reevaluate its reactionary ban of Four Loko and other alcoholic energy beverages.

Four Loko — a 23.5-ounce drink that contains approximately four beers worth of alcohol and as much caffeine as 12 ounces of coffee — stirred much controversy in Michigan after the hospitalization of students who drank the product and the reported rape of a 14-year-old girl who drank Four Loko mixed with rum, as reported last week by the Detroit Free Press. The University of Rhode Island, Ramapo College in New Jersey and several other schools have reacted to incidents surrounding the drink and banned alcohol energy drinks on their campuses. Michigan is the first and only state to prohibit the drink statewide. The order requests that the caffeinated alcoholic drinks be removed from shelves within 30 days.

The MLCC ban was a knee-jerk reaction to recent frenzy, rather than a careful consideration based upon empirical evidence. The MLCC couldn’t possibly have had time to consider the data and discuss concerns — the FDA hasn’t even completed its study of Four Loko and its health effects. Without clear, empirical reasoning for the order, the MLCC shouldn’t have passed the ban.

And MLCC seemed to sidestep procedure to implement a ban. Two out of the five members of the commission were absent from the meeting at which the ban was passed. It’s unreasonable to enact a statewide ban without full attendance of the small commission. All members of the MLCC should be present when making important decisions, especially when those decisions affect the entire state.

The MLCC also failed to communicate with these businesses and the company responsible for the sale of Four Loko, Phusion Projects, LLC. Phusion Projects was never given a notice of the commission’s proposal and never had a chance to make it’s side of the story heard. The MLCC also failed to consider the effects of the ban on companies that produce alcoholic energy beverages, as well as the businesses in Michigan that profit from distributing these drinks.

Without time to consider the impracticalities of the ban, the prohibition is a naïve response to the drinks’ safety concerns, rather than a comprehensive plan to prevent further harm. The MLCC hastily skipped over reasonable alternatives worth trying, like the use of educational campaigns or the relabeling of the products to emphasize possible dangers.

The MLCC was too rash in its decision — even hastier than Ann Arbor City Council’s porch couch ban. The MLCC should revoke or reconsider its knee-jerk decision to ban alcoholic energy drinks.

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