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GHB Letter

24 December 1999

Assemblyman Mike Honda
c/o Keith Honda, Chief of Staff
100 Paseo de San Antonio #300
San Jose, California, 95113 USA

Dear Assemblyman Honda,

I am writing to inquire about the legislative intent behind AB 924. This is in follow-up to inquiries made to Senator Sher’s office and the Assembly Committee on Public Safety. I will number the questions so that you may respond to them in any order.

Question 1: Did you intend for the reporting requirements for sales of Schedule-II chemicals under 11106 to apply to retail sales of these chemicals to consumers? Specifically, will each sale of acetone-free nail polish remover by grocery, department and drug stores require reporting to the Department of Justice?

Question 2: Did you intend for reporting requirements to apply to chemical mixtures which contain one or more of the precursors, esters, ethers, isomers and salts of GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate)?

Question 3: Did you, or, to your knowledge, did any committee consider the consequences of this law as it applies to the analog-drug statutes? Specifically, did anybody mention, consider or discuss the fact that gamma-butyrolactone, one of the most widely used and least toxic solvents used in California, has both structural and pharmacological similarities to GHB, either one of which is fully sufficient to legally establish it as an Schedule-II analog of GHB?

Question 4: Furthermore, did you or any legislator or legislative analyst consider that expanding controlled substances into simple nutritional carbohydrates would make the analog-drug statutes overly broad and therefore unconstitutionally vague? Do you consider it appropriate for the Committee on Public Safety to promote a new law that might compromise California’s ability to protect its citizens from “designer” drugs?

Question 5: Was it your intent to establish reporting requirements for foods that contain Schedule-II and/or 11106-related substances that are harvested or slaughtered within California for sale within California?

Question 6: Since GHB-related compounds, both 1106-related and analog-related, occur in produce, does this make such foods in any way illegal, any more than a dietary supplement product containing any of the same chemicals? And if such legal technicalities are not enforced, does this not invalidate these laws under the equal-enforcement provisions of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution?

Question 7: Do you think that the young citizens of California are not smart enough to recognize that official statements about GHB have been false and/or misleading? Have you actively considered the long-term effects of this official hypocrisy on their respect for both law-enforcement and legislative processes?

Although I faxed you a copy of a letter to Senator Byron Sher with the molecular relationships of GHB-related chemicals, I enclose it in this letter to facilitate your understanding of the full ramifications of the technical chemical language of AB 924, especially in relation to the analog-drug statutes. Keith Honda’s dismissal of my chemical expertise regarding these chemical relationships requires me to challenge you to have this letter analyzed by an independent expert in biochemistry. I find it interesting that consultation with such an expert was not part of the legislative process, with this law or with the GHB-scheduling law that preceded the present law. I suggest that some voters would consider this prima facie evidence of legislative negligence.

To reiterate from my letter to Senator Sher, the following chemicals are structurally related to GHB: 1) gamma-hydroxybutyrate (a simple carbohydrate nutrient found in the human body which is ubiquitous in the human diet in both animal- and plant-based foods), 2) alpha-hydroxybutyrate (also known as “alpha hydroxy,” it is commonly found in apples, apple juice and a broad selection of premium skin-care products sold in California), 3) beta-hydroxybutyrate (also known as “beta hydroxy,” this is the newest of the cosmetics ingredients now being promoted in California, and a major metabolite of “fasting” human metabolism), 4) 1,4-butanediol (a lipid component of animal skin, also found in corn and yeast, and a common monomer for polyester, polyether, polycarbonate and polyurethane plastics used in a plethora of consumer products), 5) GABA (gamma-aminobutyrate, a food component and dietary supplement sold in every health food store in the area and in a significant number of supermarkets and drug stores, and a monomer for certain nylons), 6) butyrolactone (a solvent chemical used extensively in industry, a major ingredient in acetone-free nail-polish remover sold in almost every drug store in California, and a naturally occurring trace chemical of the human body), 7) all polymer plastics and resins made from GHB, GABA and 1,4-butanediol (which include harder-than-steel automotive parts used in automobiles, polyester clothing, polycarbonate plastic water bottles, polyurethane elastomers and foams, nylon-4 rope, and hundreds of other plastic products too numerous to mention), 8) glutamate (also known as monosodium glutamate or MSG, an essential amino acid found in all meat and vegetable foods, often added to processed foods as a flavor enhancer, also sold as “Accent”), 9) alpha-ketoglutarate (a ubiquitous food-based chemical, dietary supplement and ingredient in intravenous feeding formulas, weight-loss products, and body-building supplements), 10) glutamine (a non-essential amino acid found in all animal and vegetable foods, a popular dietary supplement and also an ingredient in intravenous feeding formulas), 11) tetrahydrofuran (an industrial chemical, solvent, and monomer for polyethers, used in vinyls, printing inks and numerous polymer coatings), and 12) butyrolactam (an industrial chemical used in making nylon plastics and other polyamide resins). Please refer to the molecular illustration on page 4 for the specific relationships of these chemicals. Only a few of the many dozens of GHB-related analogs are listed.

I am the Executive Director of CERI, which operates as a think tank and information clearinghouse for nutritional, herbal and pharmaceutical treatments for cognitive conditions of all types. We have been reporting on the nutritional and medical applications of GHB for years. We publish a newsletter, Smart Life News, which is distributed to subscribers in 40 countries. I am an organic chemist by degree and have been qualified to testify as an expert witness in Federal Court on the chemistry of GHB. I have advised a few police, paramedical and coroner’s departments. I have supervised a forensic analysis of beef which establishes that it contains GHB. I have scientific papers which document GHB-related chemical content of numerous foods. Our website ( contains the 17-page report that I prepared for the Committee on Public Safety, the Committee on Health, and the Committee on Criminal Procedure. If you did not get a copy from your colleagues, please read it on the web site.

One of my deepest concerns is that false and misleading statements by law enforcement officers and bureaucrats to the public and press will further undermine public confidence in the police. This is unnecessary, and counterproductive to public safety and welfare. There is no need for drug-enforcement activities to be damaged by uncritical acceptance of “helpful” advice of FDA agents, who have an extralegal agenda towards these nutritional substances. The details of this agenda can be disclosed to you. I believe that this attempt to extend criminal penalties for possession of dietary supplements will likely boomerang in the long run by undermining public respect for the police and making law enforcement more difficult than it already is.

I urge you to reconsider your positions on these issues.


Steven Wm. Fowkes
Executive Director

cc: Govenor Gray Davis, Governor of California
Ward Dean, M.D., Center for Bio-Gerontology
Assemblyman Mike Honda, San Jose
Sheriff Don Horsley, San Mateo County
Hallye Jordan, Sacramento Bureau, San Jose Mercury News
Assemblyman Ted Lempert, 21st District
John Morgenthaler, Smart Publications
Greg Pagan, Counsel, Assembly Committee on Public Safety
Commander Dominic Peloso, Head of Narcotics, Menlo Park Police
Senator Byron Sher, 11th District
Chief Scott Vermeer, Menlo Park Police
Katina Kypridakes, Narcotics Enforcement, Department of Justice