The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has had to issue an official warning of the dangers of snorting chocolate powder to get “high”. Yep, instead of stuffing it in their face like normal people, some people are actually putting chocolate up their noses instead.
Unbelievably, this isn’t the first time the FDA has had to issue this warning. This time they are laying the blame firmly at the door of Florida-based company Legal Lean and two of its products, Legal Lean syrup, a drink, and Coco Loko, a chocolate “snuff”.
The FDA’s warning letter, aimed at the products’ distributors and marketers, claims they are selling “unapproved” and “misbranded” new drugs that have been marketed as alternatives to illegal street drugs but, not being FDA-approved, are still dangerous and could cause serious harm.
Coco Loko was released in July of this year, a snortable chocolate-based powder marketed as "raw cacao snuff", with ingredients listed including cacao powder, ginkgo biloba, taurine, and guarana – all often found in energy drinks, but taurine and guarana have not been evaluated for intranasal administration i.e. snorting.
Snorting any kind of powder – illegal substance or not – can cause tightening of the muscles that control your airways and vocal cord spasms that make it difficult to speak or breathe. This can cause lasting conditions, such as asthma. The real problem is that Coco Loko was being promoted as a street drug substitute, thus encouraging young people to seek technically-not-illegal alternatives to illegal highs.
“Legal Lean Syrup and Coco Loko encourage drug abuse in individuals, including minors,” the FDA said in a statement. “Street drug alternatives are products that claim to mimic the effects of recreational drugs and are intended to be used for recreational purposes to affect psychological states.”
When Coco Loko was first introduced into the market earlier this year, US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer contacted the FDA demanding an investigation into what he called “cocaine on training wheels”.
“‘Coco Loko’ isn’t even pure chocolate at all,” Schumer pointed out. “Instead, it is chock full of concentrated energy drink ingredients masked and marketed under the innocence of natural and safe chocolate candy.”
Legal Lean’s other product under scrutiny, a syrup designed to have relaxing and calming effects, when tested was found to include a pharmaceutical ingredient, doxylamine, that isn’t actually listed as an ingredient.
Products that contain doxylamine – an antihistamine that acts as a sedative – are required to warn against using it and drinking alcohol, and people with certain medical conditions are recommended to consult a physician before use.
The administration told Legal Lean that it must take action within 15 business days to correct its regulatory violations for Coco Loko and another product. But better yet, kids, don't snort chocolate.