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21 February 1997
Mr. Robert M. Hertzberg, Chairman
Assembly Committee on Public Safety (Fax: 916-327-6830)
State Capitol, Sacramento, California
Dear Chairman Hertzberg,
Given the recent disturbing media reports about the misuse of GHB, it is not surprising that a bill would be proposed to ban GHB. However, this sensationalized picture of GHB fails to present the balanced view that should, ideally, be the basis of law. Due to media bias, it is perhaps more important to take the time to consider the unsensationalized side of GHB, which is going unreported in the media and unrecognized by law-enforcement agencies.
There is extensive medical and scientific information about GHB. Contrary to what has been reported, GHB is not a designer drug synthesized in some dark underground laboratory; it is a nutrient found in most of our foods and a natural metabolite of the human body. It has extensive medical uses among alternative/complementary doctors. In addition, there are 15 INDs pending at the FDA, all of which remark on the inherrent safety of GHB. There are narcolepsy patients who have been taking GHB for more than ten years, with great results and no addiction problems whatsoever. In these patients, there are no controls placed on their use of GHB. They are given a large container of GHB, told to take as much as they need, and to come back when they need more. This FDA-approved protocol contradicts the stated rationale for AB6.
These facts are only a tiny piece of the information about GHB that should be considered before drastic measures are taken, especially measures that will disenfranchise current patients for whom GHB is the treatment of choice for their afflictions, or worse, drive more law-abiding citizens into the drug underground. To assist you in accessing the volume of information efficiently, I am preparing a one-page executive summary of a detailed report that will follow later.
I am personally involved in this issue. Not only do I use GHB as part of my overall nutrition program, I have been taking it for years without any side effects. Should GHB become classified as a Schedule I substance, I would be considerably disadvantaged. I would have the unfortunate dicision to choose between 1) suffering without, 2) risking a felony conviction, or 3) leaving the state. None of these are satisfactory options. As a productive member of society, a taxpayer, and employer of 4 California citizens, I would very much resent being driven from the state by a misguided attempt by the California Legislature to protect me from myself. I am fully qualified as an organic chemist to judge the appropriateness of GHB use for myself, and I concur with the near-universal opinion of most scientists who are familiar with GHB research that a reasonable person can use GHB safely and effectively with minimal labeling. This hardly requires AB6.
I would like the opportunity to testify in opposition to AB6 at next Tuesdays hearing. I know it is scheduled at 8:30 AM in room 444. If that should change, please notify me. I will be driving from the San Francisco peninsula to Sacramento for the occasion.
I think it is incumbent of legislators to consider the full range of consequences to their constituents before voting for new legislation. Ill be bringing the summary and report with me on Tuesday. I hope you will find it helpful for your decision about AB6.
Steven Wm. Fowkes