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Reprinted from The Vitamin Research Products Newsletter. (1-800-VRP-24HR). Copyright (c) 1997. Reprinted with permission.


GHB Demonization Proceeds in States.
A Call to Action—Stop Criminalization of GHB!

by Ward Dean, M.D.

Gamma hydroxy butyric acid (GHB) is a substance that was quietly sold in health food stores in the late 80s. GHB is a naturally-ocurring substance that is present in small amounts in every cell in the body, and is both a precursor and metabolite of the neurotransmitter, GABA (gamma amino butyric acid). Because of (1) its prior sales in health food stores, (2) its being a natural substance and metabolite of an amino acid, and (3) because a New Drug Application (NDA) has never been issued, GHB falls within the definition of a food supplement, as determined by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSH&EA) of 1994. Some of the effects of GHB include relieving anxiety, promoting euphoria, stimulating the release of growth hormone, acting as an aphrodesiac in some people, inducing a deep and restful sleep, normalizing abnormal EKGs, and reducing blood cholesterol, among others.

GHB is one of the safest substances known. Unlike sleep-inducing drugs, GHB is non-addictive, non-habit forming, has no toxic metabolites (in fact, it breaks down in the body into harmless, energy-producing Krebs cycle intermediates), and does not cause respiratory suppression (in fact, it protects the heart and brain from low blood levels of oxygen). GHB is so non-toxic that one person who “accidentally” took 15 tablespoons woke up 24 hours later, feeling sedated with a headache—but no other negative effects—and recovered completely within hours upon awakening.

With such a wide variety of beneficial effects, and such a wide margin of safety, one would think that GHB would be touted as a wonder substance of the ages—which many GHB-users of all ages believe it to be. However, GHB is not viewed in this light by the FDA or DEA. Instead, these agencies—and the gullible major-media—have demonized GHB by falsely and maliciously: (1) labelling it "the date-rape drug" (intentionally confusing GHB in the minds of the public with Rohypnol); (2) nicknaming it "Grievous Bodily Harm"; (3) referring to it as an illegal designer drug with 100% abuse potential; and (4) attributing a number of deaths to GHB use. None of the above claims are true. Furthermore, I have extensively investigated these alleged GHB-induced deaths, and found that not one could be attributed to any toxic effect of GHB.

A number of people (many of whom were honest, tax-paying owners of health food stores) have been prosecuted—and even sent to prison—for selling GHB! In a recent federal court case in Boston where I testified as an Expert Witness on the clinical uses and safety of GHB, I was astonished to find that the FDA had never followed their own formal procedure for determining that GHB was a dangerous drug.

In addition, I learned that when a substance is thought to be hazardous to the public welfare, and there is little time to follow formal procedures, FDA agents are authorized to seize the substance immediately. However, instead of seizing GHB upon discovery of its being sold, the FDA in most cases chose to play "Junior G-Man". For example, the agency had their undercover agents repeatedly place large orders for GHB, until they amassed enough of the product to prosecute the business-owner for a felony with the guarantee of major prison time. At the same time, the agents allowed sales of the "dangerous substance" to continue to countless non-police customers. This is hardly a procedure that should be followed if GHB were truly the toxic substance the FDA and DEA would have us believe.

Another remedy available to the FDA, in lieu of the two above (formal procedure or seizure) would be to obtain an injunction against the seller, pending administrative resolution of the status of the substance. None of these three procedures were ever followed in any of the cases.

Fortunately, the FDA's outlaw behavior has been exposed in court. As a result, many of the people who had been unjustly prosecuted and imprisoned are now having their convictions appealed and reversed. Judicial recognition of prosecutorial misconduct by U.S. attorneys and the deliberate witholding of exculpatory evidence by the government has completely undermined the FDA's anti-GHB courtroom strategy. Consequently, the agency has been forced to adopt a new strategy.

Using the same misinformation and disinformation about GHB, the new "end run" tactic of the FDA is to promote the enactment of legislation in the several states to criminalize GHB at the state level. While this is Constitutionally a more appropriate level to regulate something (if regulation were necessary), the state legislatures frequently just rubber-stamp the illegal directives of federal regulatory agencies, without performing their own independent analyses of the merits of proposed legislation.

At the present time, the DEA/FDA are promoting bills to "Schedule" GHB as a Class I Narcotic by state legislatures. A Class I narcotic is a substance that has been determined to have no medicinal value with a high potential for addiction and abuse. Such bills are in various stages of enactment in four states: California, Texas, Massachusetts, and Hawaii. Florida, Georgia and Rhode Island have already succeeded in criminalizing GHB.

Such criminalization of a food supplement will be an extremely dangerous precedent. Without the DSH&EA, the FDA would probably not have allowed the sale of melatonin, DHEA, pregnenolone, and a number of other substances. If the FDA succeeds in criminalizing GHB at the state level, using false information, they will be able to criminalize any food supplement—despite federal law prohibiting such activity. Who knows what supplement will be next?

Call to Action

There is still time to stop these bills and revoke the bills that have been passed. We urge you to contact your state (not U.S.) Representative or Senator immediately, and (politely but strongly) urge them to vote against any criminalization of GHB, and revoke the bills that have been passed.

If you don't know the name of your state legislators, call the Secretary of State or Capitol Switchboard in your state to find out your legislators' names and phone numbers (and in many cases, their FAX numbers and E-Mail addresses as well). If you are in a state that has not yet been identified as having proposed GHB legislation, please check with your state legislators to determine if GHB bills are pending, and let us know.