Here’s a sad story about bad activism: A young man died from an overdose of caffein powder purchased online, and now his parents want to get the substance banned. Following their visit to Washington, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is calling for just that to help end this scourge once and for all.

Dennis Stiner, father of the late Logan Stiner, 18, made his case against caffeine powder bluntly on Good Morning America: “It’s poison in a jar, plain and simple.”

ABC News
ABC News

Yes. It’s a super-concentrated chemical compound meant for industrial-size mixing, and you better know what you’re doing, plain and simple.

Katie Stiner, Logan’s mother, said, “We must do everything we can to get this product off the market and away from children.” But is ease of access really the culprit here? These were not toddlers who found their way under the kitchen sink. Stiner was 18.

She went on, “He thought caffeine was innocuous like the rest of us.”

Finally we’re getting to the real issue. He didn’t know that caffeINE was a powerful psychoactive compound, because if it was truly dangerous, it would be covered in D.A.R.E. with the other INEs, like cocaINE and meth (amphetamINE). No one told him that if you consume the equivalent of 30 cups of coffee all at once, it might just give you more than a pick-me-up.

This is abstinence only sex education for drugs. We teach kids about the big scary plants that grow in the forest, and the powders, and the rocks. Oh! And don’t ever do those, because drugs are bad. (Except alcohol. That’s something special shared between mommies and daddies.) A middle-class white kid overdosing on caffeine is the drug equivalent of a teen mom with a purity ring.

So what is there to legislate? This is not Big Tobacco using cartoons to sell cigarettes to kids, nor are packets of C8H10N4O2 being found at the bottom of sugared cereals. You have to buy it online in the same place you’d buy lye or chlorine, and their labels are just as unappetizing. So you can’t blame these deaths on easy access.

We could blame the drug itself, but my initial research has indicated that the jars themselves do not show a pattern of becoming self-aware and sneaking themselves into the protein shakes of the innocent. Someone has to make the choice to play kitchen-chemist.

As sad as it is that the young man died, I can’t see how a national law should be made from this. Lawmakers would do better to skip the legislation, and instead buy a truck-load of Mr. Yuk stickers.

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