State senator Brian Schoenjahn, a Democrat from Arlington in northeast Iowa, has introduced a bill that would prohibit the sale of caffeinated alcohol drinks. The original bill did not exclude drinks mixed by bartenders, but Schoenjahn says that the bill was purposely written to be very vague, so that health professionals and industry leaders could give input into the final version.

He says they will narrow the scope of the bill with an amendment that says “high alcoholic content beer should not include caffeine or other stimulants.” Premixed caffeinated alcohol beverages such as the infamous “Four Loko” drew attention this year as they were called “black out in a can” and were later pulled from store shelves after a ruling by the F-D-A. Schoenjahn says they want to be careful that the bill doesn’t have an unintended impact.

Schoenjahn says they don’t want to impact the microbrew industry, as they have worked hard to build it up to compete with surrounding states. He says they don’t want to keep someone from having “Bailey’s in coffee,” and it is aimed specifically at manufactured canned alcoholic beverages. When compared to caffeine and alcohol mixed drinks that are often served in bars, Schoenjahn says that the availability of Four Loko-type drinks is what bothers him.

Schoenjahn says it’s a matter of “ease of availability,” as he says someone can mix a drink in their home, but he doesn’t want them buying it at a convenience store, drinking it, and driving down the road. Many of the companies that produce the drinks have agreed to change their ingredients following the F-D-A’s involvement. Four Loko has already been banned by five other states.

By Jesse Gavin, KCNZ, Cedar Falls