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GHB Letter

21 February 1997

Mr. Les Kleinberg, Counsel
Senate Committee on Criminal Procedure
Room 209, State Capitol
Sacramento, California 95814
Re: SB3 and SB54

Dear Mr. Kleinberg,

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 SB3 and SB54.

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 appreciate the invitation to testify before your committee in opposition to SB3 and SB54 on Tuesday, March 18th. I will be there. I need to be notified as to the time of the hearing.

I am trying to arrange for Dr. Ward Dean to be available as well. Dr. Dean is a medical doctor licensed in both Florida and California, a former flight surgeon with the Army and Navy (recently retired), and an expert witness to the courts on GHB. He has made preliminary inquiries into several of the aleged GHB deaths and can present his findings that there were other causes of death in all of them. Dr. Dean is attending a medical conference on the east coast during the weekend immediately preceeding the hearing date and may be able to change his itinerary to San Francisco. There is a chance that he may be available on Monday afternoon and evening to attend a couple of meetings.

I think a serious mistake is being made with SB3 and SB54. I hope that two weeks is sufficient time for the Senators to consider the full range of social and public-health consequences to their constituents before voting for new legislation. I enclose a summary and report on GHB which will be sent under separate cover to each and every Senator on the Committee on Criminal Procedures.


Steven Wm. Fowkes
Executive Director