Legal Lean’s new Coco Loko infused raw cacao snuff is likely to go down as one of the most controversial new product launches since Palcohol’s powdered alcohol in 2014.
Coko Loko is attempting to introduce snortable chocolate to the mass-market.
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Looking like a powdered hot cocoa mix, it’s claimed to provide a burst of energy that lasts from 30 minutes to an hour.
It is comprised of a so-called special energy blend of energy drink-type ingredients such as B vitamins, ginkgo biloba, guarana, taurine, and the amino acid L-arginine.
Coco Loko is sold as a dietary supplement, a classification that has typically been given wide regulatory berth in the US, and it’s priced more similarly to a dietary supplement than normal food: a 1.25oz container (that delivers 10 servings) is going for about $20.
Legal Lean claims it will provide a drug-free rush of euphoric energy, elevated mood, and a feeling described as similar to a runners high.
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Coco Loko’s success is likely to depend on how well it navigates regulation in the US.
Founder of Legal Lean Nick Anderson said:
I can see it taking off, as long as it doesn’t get too controversial.
US Senator Charles Schumer has asked the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to review the legality of Coco Loko and similar products.
Schumer wants the agency to investigate the use of caffeine in inhalable food products, specifically. He said:
This suspect product has no clear health value.
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However, people really like this kind of thing, place high value on energy boosting drinks and food and the need for extra energy throughout the day is nearly universal.
According to GlobalData research 53.8 percent of people around the world (and 56 percent of all Americans) say they often feel like they need an energy boost in the day.
This rises to 71.5 percent for those in the US aged 25-34. Such high interest means companies are going to try to flog energy boosters regardless of legal challenges.
Meanwhile, people have been conditioned to be more open-minded toward substances that can be snorted or inhaled with younger people very keen on e-cigarettes.
A separate GlobalData survey found that 80.1 percent of Americans between the ages of 25-34 have tried e-cigarettes, which is more than four times the percentage of 55-64 year olds at 16.9 percent.
And now you can vape vitamin supplements, with, for example VitaCig, which delivers vitamins A, B, C, and E in a vapour form.
When asked about regulating snortable chocolate about a year ago, neither the FDA nor the US Drug Enforcement Agency indicated they had the power or authority to regulate snortable chocolate.
Schumer seems to recognise this, homing in on the presence of caffeine, a stimulant that occurs naturally in cacao and chocolate.
In the absence of clear rules and regulations, snortable chocolate may experience the intimidation game that put Palcohol powdered alcohol on the outside looking in.
After Palcohol was announced in 2014 (having received approval for sale by the US Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau), US states rushed to ban the powder on the grounds that it might spur underage drinking.
By early 2016, 31 US states had created laws to ban powdered alcohol.
The biggest danger of inhaling chocolate in public may an assumption that users are doing something illegal — and it would certainly look like snorting cocaine.
There are also health concerns. It’s not clear if inhaling cocoa causes any immediate or long term health risks.
At the very least, it could cause you to be a bit bunged up and just one nasty sinus infection may do more to put the damper on this trend than anything coming out of the mouth of an over-caffeinated politician.