Commission follows ban with retailer investigation

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Four days after the federal government banned popular caffeine-alcohol brews such as Four Loko, University police have not noticed an unusual amount of wild binge drinking and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is passively enforcing the ban. For retailers, the commission is currently enforcing a voluntary removal policy of alcoholic energy drinks such as Four Loko, Joose, Max, MoonShot and others, meaning it will soon begin taking witness reports of retailers selling the beverages and inspecting conspicuous stores. Dexter Jones, TABC assistant chief of compliance, said retailers that will not voluntarily comply will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and inspected as necessary. Jones said there will likely be retailers that continue to sell the banned beverages. “I’m sure there probably will be some,” Jones said. “However, we have identified about 12,000 retailers that are taking the initiative to comply with our request. In Texas, several caffeinated malt alcoholic beverages are still allowed to be sold, including 3Sum, Crunk Juice, Evil Eye, Liquid Charge, Riccochet and Rize. Based on a charge that the drinks have an unsafe food additive, it is illegal to ship the banned drinks over state lines or sell them at retail stores. Individuals in possession of the products will not be charged with violating the federal ban, said UTPD officer Darrell Halstead. He did not expect a large amount of binge drinking to result from the ban, but when individuals drink the alcoholic caffeinated beverages excessively, they can become aggressive, he said. “If someone wants [Four Loko and similar beverages], they’re going to get them,” Halstead said. Customers can still get Four Loko at Double R Grocery on MLK Boulevard, where manager Brian Anderson said the ban is a ridiculous federal overreach. Anderson said it would be compared to banning vodka and Red Bull, and that Anheuser-Busch would compensate him for any product that he would be forced to destroy. “I’m not a vodka-Red Bull fan, and I’ve only had one Four Loko, but I couldn’t tell much of a difference,” he said. Across the street at a Conoco gas station, Four Lokos and Joose sit in an ice container. Josefato Moraes, an employee at the station, said the station would remove the product Tuesday afternoon. Chris Joffrion, a biology junior, said he stocked up on Four Loko this weekend after he heard they were going to be banned, even though several stores around his West Campus apartment were sold out of the products. “They were completely wiped out around here,” he said. “I guess when we run out, we’ll have to go to something else.”