California Governor Jerry Brown (D) has signed a bill (S.B. 39) prohibiting the importation, production and sale of caffeinated beer beverages in retail establishments throughout the state. Effective January 1, 2012, the legislation provides, in part, “Beer to which caffeine has been directly added as a separate ingredient shall not be imported into this state, produced, manufactured, or distributed within this state, or sold by a licensed retailer within this state.” The prohibition does not apply to beer brewed with coffee or other naturally caffeinated ingredients.
Calling caffeinated beer beverages “a threat to public health,” bill sponsor Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) said the measure was adopted in response to several incidents involving underage drinkers hospitalized for alcohol overdoses after consuming caffeinated beer, which is typically packaged in large containers and has sweet, fruity flavors. “The added caffeine masks the effects of the high alcohol content, which can lead to binge drinking and dangerous behavior,” Padilla said, noting that a single caffeinated beer beverage has been compared to drinking five cans of beer and one cup of coffee. California apparently joins Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Utah, and Washington in banning such drinks. See Sen. Alex Padilla News Release, August 1, 2011.