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LOS ANGELES -- A south Los Angeles activist is calling for a national boycott of the new energy drink, Cocaine, arguing that it promotes drug use among young people.
Cocaine is currently sold in more than 200 stores in Los Angeles, New York and San Diego, according to Hanna Kirby of Las Vegas-based Redux Beverages, its maker. The beverage provides an energy boost similar to the illegal drug, but the active ingredients in the drink are sugar and caffeine -- lots and lots of caffeine. The makers claim it has more caffeine than any other energy drink, CBS reported.
But Najee Ali, executive director of Project Islamic HOPE, as well as a coalition of South Central Los Angeles community leaders, plans to hold a news conference in Leimert Park Monday to call for a national boycott of the new drink.
"The coalition leaders have pledged to shut down any store or business in South L.A. that attempts to sell the Cocaine drink to our community," Ali said. "Cocaine use has killed, imprisoned, torn apart and devastated countless members of our community. The Cocaine energy drink will have a terrible impact on impressionable children."
Ali said people did not object enough when rapper Nelly's Pimp Juice energy was sold in the community. "And now, Cocaine energy drink owners think they can come in also," he added. "We have to be prepared to fight this Cocaine drink by any means necessary."
Other groups calling for a Cocaine boycott include the National Action Network, Community Coalition and Latino and African American Leadership Alliance.
Anti-drug advocates in other cities have also spoken out against the beverage, saying it could lead young people to try the real thing or become addicted to caffeine, CBS said.
This is not the first example of drugs being used as marketing leverage for drinks.
According to NutraIngredients.com, a drink containing hemp blossom syrup called C-Ice developed by Austrian company Thurella is now available in 25 countries. Although the packaging contains the words 'sweet cannabis tea,' it contains no THC -- the chemical responsible for the psychotropic effects of marijuana.
Harinder Kohli, commercial director of C-Ice in the United Kingdom, said that the syrup is a natural immune enhancer and contains protein, omega oils, amino acids, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, in addition to the antioxidant properties of the black tea.
When it comes to accepting hemp as a healthy ingredient, however, Kohli said: "There are going to be a certain amount of psychological hurdles to get over, but we're not saying 'drink this and get stoned,' but 'learn with us and be enlightened'."