Another Ephedrine Bill Introduced in California

April 26, 2001

2 Min Read
Another Ephedrine Bill Introduced in California

SAN FRANCISCO--Bill SB 397--introduced Feb. 21 to regulate the sale, distribution and labeling of dietary supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids--was discussed April 25, even though a similar bill (AB 2294) had been vetoed last September by California Gov. Grey Davis. Sen. Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco) introduced the new bill.

According to the bill's summary, this action would prohibit the sale or distribution of any dietary supplement product containing ephedrine group alkaloids unless they met requirements including: 1) warnings on labels and in advertisements about possible adverse effects, 2) being kept behind the counter or a locked container, 3) being sold in quantities of not more than three products, 4) carrying the Department of Health Services' 800-number to report adverse events, 5) listing the amount of ephedrine and caffeine alkaloids per serving, and 6) not advertising a product as "all natural," "natural," "all herbal" and the like unless the product is derived from plant-based material. Any violation of these provisions would be a misdemeanor offense.

Companies including Herbalife International Inc., organizations such as the National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA), and retailing groups such as the Direct Selling and California Retailers Associations are aligned in opposition to the bill. The groups state that SB 397 singles out "a single dietary supplement ingredient for special regulation." Those who support the bill include the California Pharmacists Association and the Council of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Associations.

It is uncertain whether this bill would meet the fate of last year's bill. Davis had vetoed AB 2294 because he argued that this is a matter of interstate commerce and "clearly the responsibility of Congress to regulate, which they have declined to do thus far," according to the bill's committee analysis.

According to Robert Herrell, staff director in Sen. Speier's office, everybill that is introduced is given to an advisory committee, that, in this case, supported this legislation in a vote of 8-2. The next step is the senate appropriations committee, where the fiscal needs of the bill will be discussed. Following that, it will go through the state senate and then follow a similar path of the state assembly. As evident through this process, California is one of a handful of states that has a full-time legislature. "I know that Sen. Speier feels very strongly about [regulating ephedrine alkaloid products]," Herrell stated. "In her opinion, the governor erred last year in vetoing [AB 2294]. Hopefully, he won't make that mistake again." Herrell added that ephedra and ma huang is included under the bill's proposed regulations. Calls to Herbalife were unreturned by press time.

For more information on this bill, visit

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