CA Governor Vetoes Legislation Restricting Access to Supplements

Explaining his reasons for the veto, Gov. Newsom noted, "dietary supplements for weight loss are not considered drugs"

dietary supplements weight loss

Sacramento, CA—California Governor Gavin Newsom has vetoed Assembly Bill 1341. As WholeFoods Magazine has reported, California bill AB-1341: Dietary supplements for weight loss and over-the-counter diet pills called for restricting access to dietary supplements.

Newsom explained in his veto letter that the bill would prohibit retail establishments from selling, transferring, or providing, dietary supplements for weight loss or over-the-counter diet pills to anyone under 18 years of age without a prescription, or valid ID prior to purchasing. AB-1341 also would require the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to establish a list of dietary supplements that would be subject to such restrictions.

Outlining his reasons for vetoing the bill, Newsom said: “I commend the work of the author as this bill raises an important public health issue related to the safety of diet or weight loss pills that can result in injury. However, dietary supplements for weight loss are not considered drugs and, therefore, this measure would require CDPH to evaluate every individual weight loss and dietary supplement product for safety, which is beyond the scope of the department’s capabilities.”

As future steps, Newsom:

  • Called for CDPH to form a workgroup including academic and medical experts to develop public policy recommendations on the best way to educate the public health on the topic of supplements for weight loss.
  • Noted that CDPH “is prepared to work with the legislature next session to address sales age limits and other potential legislative actions to address the responsible sale of dietary supplements for weight loss and over-the-counter diet pills that do not require the state to undertake lengthy and costly pharmacologica l studies on the many supplements on the market today.”

Industry Responds to News of the Veto

The Natural Products Association (NPA), which has been working to fight the bill and led a grassroots campaign to mobilize industry members, said the veto was “a big win for American consumers, free enterprise, and thousands of small and  large businesses in California.” NPA pointed to the larger impact the bill would have had, explaining that it would have “required brick and mortar retailers to post warning signs at purchase counters saying that dietary supplements are known to cause serious adverse events, including stroke, organ failure, and even death despite no scientific evidence supporting the claim. The bill had no such similar warning requirements for online sales.”

NPA took several actions to fight AB-1314

Actions from NPA include: 

“This is a decisive victory for California consumers, the natural products industry and science,” said Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., NPA President and CEO. “Supporters of this bill like STRIPED used a range of completely false claims and zero science to jam this  through with no evidence, but to his credit Governor Newsom and his team looked at the facts and  made the right call. NPA members had a big hand in persuading him by sending thousands of messages that made their opposition clear. While we are extremely grateful Governor Newsom listened to the science, the fact remains other states need to now take now notice and ensure these draconian policies never again see  the light of day. NPA is still currently battling to ensure similar proposals in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Rhode Island do not become law.”

AHPA & CRN engaged with bill’s sponsor

Also sharing news of the veto, the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) reported that, over the last two years, they trade group “has worked closely and directly with Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, the bill’s sponsor, to present the interests of consumers and the responsible sports nutrition industry.”

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) said that while CRN opposed the initial version of AB-1341, the group “engaged with Assemblymember Garcia to reach an amended version that required CDPH to evaluate products individually, rather than imposing a categorical restriction on dietary supplements.” CRN noted that the amended version of the bill “removed liability from retail clerks and eliminated the restricted access to affected products as originally included in the legislation.” When the bill passed the Senate with those changes, CRN removed its opposition and took a neutral position.

Julia Gustafson, CRN Vice President, Government Relations, said, “CRN had multiple conversations and a good working relationship with bill author Assemblymember Cristina Garcia and her staff. We appreciate her willingness to include practical measures in the final version of her legislation that limited its scope and removed behind-the-counter restrictions…We expect this bill or similar proposals to be reconsidered during the next legislative session. CRN stands ready to work with the lawmakers to ensure this legislation is reintroduced in a way that responsibly balances consumer safety with public access to dietary supplements.”

NPA spotlights power of grassroots efforts

Regarding the grassroots campaign designed to counter AB-1314 (in addition to opposing  similar proposals in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Rhode Island), NPA’s Dr. Fabricant said, “This is a prime example of what a strong grassroots network can do for the industry. NPA’s grassroots network sent over ten thousand emails and phone calls to Governor Newsom and the legislature urging their opposition to AB-1341.”

Related: COSMOS-Mind Study Shows Promise for Multivitamins in Cognition