Statements of the US Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration regarding the massive increase in emergency room visits for energy drinks:
Trend data show a sharp increase in the number of emergency department (ED) visits involving energy drinks between 2005 (1,128 visits) and 2008 and 2009 (16,053 and 13,114 visits, respectively), representing about a tenfold increase between 2005 and 2009.
Although there are no recommended or “safe” levels that have been experimentally established for caffeine, most researchers and clinicians consider 100 to 200 mg of caffeine per day to be moderate intake for an adult. Pediatricians recommend that children and adolescents abstain from all stimulant-containing energy drinks.
In one study, bar patrons who consumed alcohol mixed with energy drinks were 3 times more likely to leave a bar highly intoxicated and were 4 times more likely to intend to drive while intoxicated than those who did not consume alcohol mixed with energy drinks.
Statements of US Attorney Melinda Haag, as to why the Justice Department was suddenly concerned with Berkeley Patients Group and other medical marijuana dispensaries:
(SF Weekly) ”When a dispensary comes to my attention that is close to a school, a park, a playground or children, that’s a line I’ve decided to draw.”
“There is a belief, backed by facts, that marijuana operations are often times the victims of criminal activity,” she added. “Armed robberies at dispensaries, armed robberies at grow operations, and people who are nearby are at risk [to wit: school children] as a result of that.”
Never mind that there haven’t been any such dangers at the dispensaries Haag is working to shut down. Never mind that some of these dispensaries are in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, where there are strip clubs, porn shops, massage parlors, taverns, liquor stores, and open-air heroin and crack markets are closer to the schools than any of the dispensaries. My God, won’t you just think of the children?!? We can’t let them get the wrong message that marijuana is somehow medical and not as harmful to them as we say! We must clamp down medical weed!
Recreational speed, however, is openly sold and marketed to teens in every convenience store in America. Take, for instance, Five Hour Extra-Strength Energy Shots, which contain twice the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Niacin, a chemical that aids in the conversion of food to energy, but which Americans already get far too much of in their diet. These drinks contain twenty times the RDA of Vitamin B6, a set of chemicals that aid in protein metabolism and cognitive development, but in a dose that’s half the upper intake levels (UL) of the vitamin above which health complications can occur. These energy shots also contain 83 times the RDA of Vitamin B12, useful in metabolism and red blood cell development and not harmful at any dose; however, only about 10 mcg of the drink’s 500 mcg of B12 can be absorbed by the body anyway.
The real boost in the Energy Shots is the “energy blend” that contains 2,000 mg of other chemicals including Taurine and “caffeine comparable to 12 ounces of the leading premium coffee”. That’s about 240 mg of caffeine, the same as a teen might get from a 44oz Super Big Gulp of Mountain Dew, but in a two ounce shot. It’s odd to me that a Justice Department so concerned about the teens and how much more potent marijuana is these days isn’t raising a stink about energy shots that are six times more potent than coffee and 22 times more potent than Mountain Dew. But now tragedy may force them to:
(Today) Fourteen-year-old Anais Fournier downed two 24-ounce energy drinks on one December day, while hanging out with her friends at the mall. The next day, the Maryland teenager went into cardiac arrest — and just six days later, she was dead.
The official cause of death, according to the teenager’s death certificate, was cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity.
The day before she went into cardiac arrest, Anais’s family says she drank two 24-ounce Monster energy drinks, unwittingly guzzling 480 miligrams of caffeine — that’s nearly five times the limit recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. To put it another way: By drinking just two large energy drinks, Anais drank as much caffeine as you’d find in about 14 cans of Coke.
The Justice Department might want to stick to persecuting medical marijuana businesses, because these energy drink businesses now have a lot of money and media savvy. Plus, it helps that their product is perfectly legal. Monster Energy Drink sells its product in regular 16 oz and “mega” 24oz sizes, yet indicates 8 oz as a “serving size”, as if the typical purchaser is going to share it with a friend or two or stash the half-drank can to go flat in the fridge for later. Their “energy blend” is 2,500 mg of caffeine, other chemicals, and guarana, which can have some pretty severe side effects when overdosed.
One fear we hear echoed by the people who oppose marijuana legalization is that it will be marketed to kids. Yet we rarely hear complaints about Monster’s obvious marketing of bands, extreme sports, models, and celebrities (ironically including Snoop Dogg) designed to appeal to teens. Red Bull makes Monster look like upstarts with their popular cartoon “gives you wings” TV ads, sponsorship of air races and “flugtag”. But when medical marijuana dispensaries try something as innocuous as sponsoring a canned food drive for the homeless, their donations are turned away.