Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer has written to the US Food and Drug Administration asking it to look into Coco Loko, a caffeine-laced inhalable food product that’s marketed to consumers as raw cacao snuff—but which he fears is being used as an easy means for getting high.
The “snortable chocolate powder” is made by a company called Legal Lean and is typically sold in small, 10-serving tins for $24.99. It promises euphoric energy, calm focus, and a rush of endorphins and serotonin to reduce the “worry and chatter in your brain.” The target audience, Schumer contends, are school-aged kids.
“It is crystal clear that the FDA needs to wake up and launch a formal investigation into so-called Coco Loko before too many of our young people are damaged by it,” Schumer said in a statement. “This product is like cocaine on training wheels.”
Just the name Coco Loko is a relatively overt throwback to the controversial alcoholic energy drink Four Loko, also known as “blackout-in-a-can.” Several studies documented the dangers that can arise after mixing and consuming alcohol and caffeine, and in 2010 the FDA sent a warning letter about the combination to Four Loko, effectively neutering the company, which exists today as a “premium flavored malt beverage.”
The health risks of ingesting Coco Loco are still unclear; even Legal Lean has said it did not consult with medical professionals when producing the snuff. In 2015, the FDA warned consumers about use of pure powdered caffeine as, if used irresponsibly, it can lead to an accidental overdose.