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Cover Letter to GHB Report

To the members California Assembly Public Safety Committee,

Enclosed you will find an 18-page report on GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid), possession of which will become a felony criminal matter with the passage of AB6. I regret being unable to deliver this report to you prior to the verbal testimony I offered to the committee when AB6 was unanimously approved. I had only two days notice to prepare my testimony, and since that time, I have had to focus on the Senate Committee on Criminal Procedures hearing of SB3 and SB54 which was originally scheduled for the 18th of this month but which has been advanced (without notice to opponents!) to the 11th (today or tomorrow, depending on when you get this letter). From the beginnning, these bills have been rushed through the legislative process without apparent concern for community imput from either medical professionals using GHB or from consumers taking GHB as part of their nutrition programs.

This precipitous rush to judgment has been highly prejudicial. Even though I was actively tracking ongoing developments with the formation of the Public Safety Committee and deliberations, I had only two days notice of the deadline for submitting written materials, and four days notice for the hearing. As if that were not bad enough, I had arranged to have Dr. Ward Dean flown in from Florida to testify to the Committee on Criminal Procedure on the 18th. With the last-minute advancing of the schedule and complete lack of notice to me (the only registered opposition to the bills), SB3 and SB54 would have been unopposed!

Fortunately. I found out about the change when notifying Les Kleinberg (Crim Pro Counsel) of Dr. Dean’s availability on the 18th. I have changed my schedule and will be there on the 11th to testify. Unfortunately for the committee and the citizens of California, Dr. Dean cannot be there. A rational and critical voice has been effectively silenced.

Dr. Dean is a court-approved expert witness on GHB, a medical doctor licensed in both Florida and California, and a physician who uses GHB within his practice. He has a distinguished career serving his country in both the Army and Navy as a Ranger Instructor, a Diving Medical Officer, and Flight Surgeon for the military’s anti-terrorist Delta Force. Despite his willingness to serve the California Legislature with expert testimony, and answer troublesome questions about these bills, he is being excluded by a procedural process bent on censoring criticism of these bills. It was my hope that there would be time to present the information in the enclosed report in a fair and balanced manner such that a legislative faux pas with SB3, SB54 and AB6 could be averted. I now have doubts.

I do hope that there is still time for reconsideration. I do not know what procedures are still available for the Assembly Committee on Public Health to review the decision on AB6. But at least the enclosed information will provide you with an opportunity to reconsider your votes before this matter reaches the floor.

I have just written about this matter to the Assembly Health Committee. I have told them that Crim Pro “is holding a hearing next Tuesday at 9:30 AM which will be considering SB3 and SB54 which will attempt to criminalize (as a felony) use and possession of GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate), a carohydrate dietary substance and natural metabolite of the human body which is being used within the alternative/complementary medical community in California.” If any of this this comes as a surprise to you, please read the report.

Supplement consumers are a powerful loby in California. Right now they are ignorant of what you have done. When they find out, there will be a political price to pay. The FDA knows that you are going to take the heat on this issue. The FDA has embarked on a strategy of removing GHB on a state-by-state bases specifically because their power to remove GHB from the market is limited by a “risk to public health.” The new federal restrictions on arbitrary FDA actions against supplements (via the Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act amendments to the Food Drug & Cosmetics Act) require the FDA to hold open public hearings to account for any decision to remove any supplement. The myth of public health risk from GHB would not hold up to public scrutiny. There is no risk to public health.

Fortunately, you are doing their dirty work for them. There’s no law against federal agents lying to the California Legislature (or local police). However, their strategy depends on getting the job done as fast as possible, before dietary supplement consumers figure out what is happening and make their voices known to you. It took two years for the dietary supplement consumers to bury Congress in letters opposing FDA plans to remove amino acids and high-potency vitamin supplements from the over-the-counter market and turn them into prescription-only drugs. It can happen in California as well. California leads the nation in alternative/complimentary medicine and nutrition-savvy consumers. I think it’s an exceedingly bad political risk for you to take. Ask your colleagues in the Assembly Health Committee.

To assist you with the volume of information on GHB, the report starts with a one-page executive summary which will direct you to more detailed discussion in the report. If you have questions after reading the report (it was a rush job, prepared in only a week), I am available to answer them, as are other medical professionals. References can also be provided. Please, please, get your questions answered to your satisfaction.

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 the clinicians and researchers using GHB in practice that any “reasonable” person can use GHB safely and effectively with simple labeling.

Dr. Dean’s preliminary inquiries into the deaths that proponents of these bills are alleging were GHB-related has determined that none of these deaths can be attributed to any toxic effect of GHB. If you only read one thing, please read the tragic case of Hillory Farias, the Texas teenager who’s death and family were shamelessly and brutally exploited by FDA and DEA agents as part of this organized campaign to discredit GHB. For the record, Miss Farias did not die from GHB.


Steven Wm. Fowkes
Executive Director