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EDITORIAL:Cocaine: Ignore the buzz, just leave alone

September 30, 2006

Hopefully, the buzz over the new energy drink, Cocaine, will be only a temporary high, and its pushers and dealers won't end up in Glendale and the foothills.

Glendale Police and Glendale Unified School District officials were right this week to express concerns over the marketing of the high-caffeine energy drink, saying that it sends the wrong message to children.

The drink is a shameless attempt to make a buck off of youngsters, whose appetites can be fueled by curiosity about anything illicit, or "bad." It plays off those appetites, using connections between the effects of the drink and the illegal drug, leaving local officials to worry that it may promote the real thing.

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Unfortunately, the buzz over the drink is working.

The drink's manufacturers, Las Vegas-based Redux Beverages LLC, got 6.7 million hits at its web site over the last week, and the drink is selling well outside of Glendale — where it is still unavailable.

But unavailable is how should stay in the city. Stores should not give in to the marketing and put Cocaine on their shelves.

Selling and buying it will only endorse a product that goes too far in exploiting young peoples' appetites, while playing off the connections between needing a boost of energy and a drug that not only creates a high but ruins lives.

The name for the drink is clever, with the catch phrase "the legal alternative" as a witty play on words for a drink, which, of course, has no cocaine in it, but a potent amount of caffeine.

But is this really the message we want to be sending our children — that a drink called Cocaine makes you high, kind of like the real thing? That if you go to the website, you can find the "dealers" who sell the drink?

We'd like to think that children are smarter than that. More power to them, if they are. But you can feel for school district officials like Glendale Unified School District Supt. Michael Escalante, who worried this week that after years of building anti-drug programs, that a popular drink could lessen the "illegality" of the drug for youngsters.

Then again, maybe we shouldn't be all that surprised by the instant popularity of Cocaine, the drink. In 2004, 34.2 million Americans ages 12 and older reported they used cocaine, and 7.8 million reported using crack, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

Redux simply plays into that demand to make a profit on a drink that gets you about as high as a large coffee. Unfortunately, they've managed to do it in the name of a powerfully addictive stimulant that after being snorted, injected or digested can cause heart attack, abnormal hearth rhythm, paranoia, seizure and death.

We know we are likely playing into the buzz by even giving the issue ink, but that doesn't make this "legal alternative" any less wrong. It's worth saying something about it, with the hope that the high will be only temporary, and not a choice for a new generation.

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