LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) – Energy drinks give a jolt of caffeine, but a new beverage is going for a more mellow effect. Called Chillo, the drink combines hemp with sugar and caffeine. The Austrian-made energy drink is legal on American soil, and the packaging seems to be the main selling point, according to convenience store clerk Sherif Hoque.
"People like to buy it because of the can color and especially the leaf of marijuana," said Hoque.
The leaf symbolizes hemp, a relative of marijuana, and the drink packs four percent of hemp seed extract.
"It [hemp] has potentially .3 percent of THC. Now to put that in perspective, your standard marijuana joint has somewhere between six and 20 percent THC, so if you took a mid range, say 12 percent, that would mean you would have to drink 40 cans of this 12 ounce Chillo to equal that," explained Dr. Robert Anderson, an Emergency Room Physician at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, based on research he conducted on hemp and its THC content.
Makers of other hemp products, like lotions and food, claim it has many health benefits like omega-3 fatty acids, but Dr. Anderson observed there is little research available on hemp.
"Unfortunately a lot of these things don't get tested until there are some reported fatalities or major diseases that pop up. You don't want your child to be the first one to have that," said Dr. Anderson.
He also worries if there is a small amount of THC, it could be a red flag on a drug screen.
"They're going to walk into a store get something over the counter and it tastes good […] they may drink 4 or 5 cans by noon and then get a random test at the plant and it could potentially pop up positive," said Dr. Anderson.
Hoque recently started selling the drink two months ago and says they are selling very quickly.