Reporting Kathryn Brown
MAHWAH, NJ (CBS 2 / WCBS 880) - After an alarming spike in student alcohol poisoning cases, Ramapo College administrators are banning the alcoholic energy drink known as Four Loko.
The ban comes after 16 students having been hospitalized with at least half of dozen involving the drink known by the nicknames “liquid cocaine” and “blackout in a can,” reports CBS 2 HD’s Kathryn Brown.
Ramapo College President Peter Mercer says his administration is worried about the high alcohol drink’s emergence on campuses.
“It’s very dangerous. Students who consume it become intoxicated very quickly, and we know it’s been banned at other colleges so we didn’t wait around for toxicology reports. We just banned it right away,” Mercer says.”It concerns us that this product is on the market because it certainly contributes to it.”
The drink comes in a 23.5 ounce can and is equal to drinking three beers, a can of Red Bull and a shot of espresso. Many of the Four Loko flavors contain 12 percent alcohol by volume, making it easy for those with even the highest level of tolerance to become intoxicated.
“I’ve seen guys—very big, who can have a high tolerance for alcohol, drink one and a half of these and not remember their entire night,” says senior Sara Rahimi.
The drinks are sold in a variety of fruit flavors, packaged inside brightly-colored cans and cost only about $2.50 each.
Junior Noah Luogameno says it’s a drink that will keep you up until the early morning.
“It makes you party all night long,” Luogameno says.
Despite its prevalence on campus, most students support the ban.
“I guess I would say I support the ban because they’ve been a dangerous drink around campus lately,” says senior Rob Talalai.
Senior Ricardo Del Carmen also supports the ban.
“I think that’s the right decision because it’s also a slash energy drink so I’m pretty sure it’s gonna hype up,” Del Carmen says.
The problem isn’t limited to college campuses though. Police say a number of Mahwah high schoolers have also gotten into trouble after drinking the potent mix of energy and alcohol.
Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli says Four Loko has been found both on and off high school campuses.
“We’re finding that the liquor stores are selling a tremendous amount. We spoke with one liquor establishment who gets 10 cases a week and sells out in a couple days and can’t get any more,” says Batelli.
He and other local officials are pushing for the state’s attorney general to investigate whether the fruity-energy-drink is being improperly marketed to underage drinkers.
The attorneys general in New York, Connecticut and California are also investigating the drink.