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To the California Assembly Health Committee,
I am writing to advise the members of the Assembly Health Committe that the Senate Committee on Criminal Procedure is holding a hearing next Tuesday at 9:30 AM which will be considering SB3 and SB54 which will criminalize (as a felony) use and possession of GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate), a carbohydrate dietary substance and natural metabolite of the human body which is being used within the alternative/complementary medical community in California.
Agents of the FDA and DEA, as well as the Los Angeles Police Department, are referring to GHB as a "date rape" drug, an addictive designer drug which is "100% abused", and a substance for which there are "no legitimate medical uses." Such allegations are specious and devoid of factual basis, but this baseless rhetoric has been effective in inflaming the media and now several state legislatures (Georgia and Rhode Island, with bills pending in California, Florida, Massachusetts and Hawaii) into scheduling GHB as a Schedule I controlled substance.
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 California, and orthodox doctors in countries throughout the world. In addition, there are 15 INDs pending at the FDA, all of which remark on the extremely low toxicity, lack of addictiveness, and extremely wide margin of safety of GHB. There are narcolepsy patients who have been taking GHB continuously 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 SB3 and SB54.
The enclosed 18-page report presents my reasons for opposing SB3 and SB54. It has just been sent to the members of the Committee on Criminal Procedures in anticipation of the hearing on March 18th, to which I was invited to testify. It is also being sent retroactively to members of the Committee on Public Safety which voted unanimously to approve AB6. [With only two-days notice, I was only able to get several letters of opposition to the Chairman (Assemblyman Robert M. Hertzberg) and Author (Assemblyman Larry Bowler) by myself and several medical doctors, but the rest of the committee's members only heard a few minutes of verbal opposition by me.] In what seems to me a highly unusual move, the Crim Pro hearing on the 18th was moved to the 11th without notifying me. As far as I know, I am the only registered opposition to SB3 and SB54. My exclusion from that hearing would have been highly prejudicial. I therefore feel compelled to bring this potential travesty to the attention of the Health Committee. A potentially valuable health-enhancing substance is about to be declared a felony criminal matter, apparently without due consideration for the adverse health impact this prohibition will have on Californians.
To assist you in accessing the volume of information, I have prepared a one-page executive summary of the report. If after reading the summary you are as perplexed as I, please read the details and join in asking questions of your colleagues about the wisdom of this action.
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.
I had made arrangements to have Dr. Ward Dean fly in from Florida to testify before Crim Pro on the 18th. He is adamantly opposed to SB3, SB54 and AB6. Dr. Dean is a medical doctor licensed in both Florida and California, a former flight surgeon and diving officer with the Army and Navy (from which he recently retired as Commander), and a court-approved expert witness on GHB. It appears that the rescheduling of the hearing has effectively prevented the committee from hearing oral arguments and getting questions answered from one of the most qualified experts possible.
Dr. Dean has made preliminary inquiries into the deaths that proponents of these bills are alleging were GHB-related. He has found 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. The family has hired a lawyer to fight back.
I think a serious mistake is being made with SB3 and SB54. Since health aspects if this issue appear to be getting shortchanged in this frantic rush to judgment, I appeal to members of the Health Committee to raise question in defense of your constituency. Please read the enclosed report. And please consider attending the hearing on the 11th.
Steven Wm. Fowkes