Ohio House OKs ban on pure caffeine, powdered alcohol sales

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A bill banning the sale of pure caffeine products in Ohio cleared the state House on Wednesday, one year after a high school senior overdosed on a powdered form of the stimulant and died.

The legislation would make it a misdemeanor offense to sell products consisting solely or primarily of caffeine that's manufactured into a crystalline, liquid or powdered form.

Eighteen-year-old Logan Stiner was just days from graduating high school in northeast Ohio when, on May 27, his brother found him unresponsive in the family's home in LaGrange, southwest of Cleveland. A coroner ruled that Stiner died of cardiac arrhythmia and seizure from acute caffeine toxicity. The teen had more than 70 micrograms of caffeine per milliliter of blood in his system — as much as 23 times the amount found in the system of a typical coffee or soda drinker.

Stiner was a popular student who was voted prom king, wrestled and planned to study chemical engineering at the University of Toledo.

Caffeine powder is usually marketed as a dietary supplement and is unregulated, unlike caffeine added to soda.

The Food and Drug Administration doesn't have the legal authority to just pull such a substance off the shelves, but the agency has been building a legal case against those who are marketing it in bulk to get them to stop.

Federal regulators have warned consumers to avoid pure powdered caffeine, which is typically sold online.

Even a teaspoon of the powder could be lethal — it is equivalent to about 25 cups of regular coffee, the FDA says.

State representatives in Ohio passed the legislation barring pure caffeine sales on a 92-3 vote Wednesday, a day after a committee amended the bill to also prohibit the sale of powdered or crystalline alcohol. Such powder is sold online and can be added to any beverage to make it an alcoholic drink.

State Rep. Jim Buchy, a Greenville Republican, told his colleagues that by passing the legislation, "we are removing two options for mayhem in drug usage in Ohio."

The Senate, which passed an earlier version of the measure, would have to agree to the House changes.