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Calif. joins other states to ban alcoholic drink 'Blast'

April 22, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
California is joining more than a dozen other states trying to have a controversial drink pulled off store shelves. That also means taking on superstar Snoop Dog.

Jerry's Liquor in Santa Monica is one of the many stores choosing not to sell Blast. It's something that medical experts are basically calling a night binge drinking in a can. It's colorful and comes in flavors like grape and raspberry watermelon.

"The packaging, it looks like it's for kids," said one Southland resident. "It looks like soda pop."

Hip hop artist Snoop Dogg is the spokesman in a video posted by Pabst Brewing Company on YouTube.

"It looks like an energy drink," said another Southern California resident. "Like a monster, so I would drink it."

But it's not an energy drink. The blast here is from a lot of alcohol.

"You are basically drinking five beers if you drink one 23 ounce can," said drug and alcohol counselor John Tsilimparis.

At a cost of about $3, a 23 ounce can contains 12 percent alcohol. That's twice the amount found in the malt liquor Colt 45, also brewed by Pabst.

"My brain might tell me I only had one drink so I can't be drunk, my thoughts cannot be impaired," said Tsilimparis. "My reflexes might not be impaired and I'm more likely to have another drink which could be eight to 10 beers, or I might get behind a car and cause some damage."

California Attorney General Kamala Harris agrees. She is joining attorney generals from 19 other states asking Pabst to pull the product.

In recent years, the drink Four Loco was removed from shelves for containing caffeine and alcohol. But now that Four Loco took out the caffeine, it is selling cans with the same alcohol content as Blast.

"It's okay as long as it doesn't have the ingredients that Four Loco did," said Burbank resident Jamie Perez.

Colt 45's Facebook fan page is full of photos of people posing with a cardboard cutout of Snoop Dogg and proclaiming support for the drink.

Pabst released a statement: "As with all marketing products, our marketing efforts for Blast are focused on conveying the message of drinking responsibly. To that end, the alcohol content of Blast is clearly marked on its packaging."

But with videos on YouTube showing a launch party in Blast's honor, many are worried.

"A younger person is going to catch their eye and want to buy it," said Hollywood resident Oliver Lopez.

Snoop Dog would not comment. We asked people who tried Blast and they said it tastes basically like a fruit drink.