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Samuel Girod of Bath County, KY, is an Amish farmer who sold homemade herbal remedies. The FDA saw to it he would spend the next six years in federal prison.
The 56-year-old man created a salve made of chickweed, rosemary, beeswax, and olive oil. The label said it was to treat skin disorders such as “dry skin, cuts, burns, draws, and poison ivy.” Girod also handed out pamphlets touting the product’s effectiveness in treating skin cancer, diaper rash, and fungal infections.
When a Missouri resident filed a complaint, the state health department demanded he remove the language. Girod changed the product’s name to “Healing Chickweed,” agents said the word “healing” was verboten, so he renamed it “Original Chickweed.”
Another of Girod’s products, called TO-MOR-GONE, contains bloodroot and was claimed to be “very good at removing tumors.” This old folk remedy has been practiced for centuries, mostly to remove dead skin layers from around skin tumors and wounds. But bloodroot removes this dead skin due to its caustic properties. The FDA decided this was a danger to the public and demanded to inspect his manufacturing process — in other words, his home.
Girod, stating that his products weren’t subject to FDA oversight because they were herbal remedies, barred their entry. As part of the Old Order Amish community, his religious beliefs mandate that he avoid the modern world as much as possible, including modern pharmaceuticals. Nevertheless, the FDA decided that since Girod made vague medical claims, his products were drugs and subject to the full weight of the federal bureaucracy.
In August of last year, Girod missed a status hearing. This led the federal government to label him a fugitive and they arrested him at his family farm. He was held without bail as the trial proceeded.
Bath County Sheriff John Snedegar petitioned the feds, asking why the FDA was “attacking and victimizing such peaceful and law-abiding Americans,” adding he “would not stand by while the rights of peaceful people are violated.”
Local residents agreed with their sheriff. “I can’t even figure out what he has done wrong,” said neighbor Suza Moody. “They live at the foot of the cross and the thought of one of them intentionally doing something wrong is outrageous.” An online petition generated more than 27,000 signatures seeking his immediate release.
Acting as his own counsel, Girod refused to submit to the federal yoke. “I am not a creation of state/government, as such I am not within its jurisdiction,” he wrote. “The proceedings of the ‘United States District Court’ cannot be applied within the jurisdiction of the ‘State of Kentucky.’”
When the judge asked him to make a statement, Girod said, “I do not waive my immunity to this court. I do not consent.”
As a result, the father to 12 and grandfather to 25 has been sentenced to six years in federal prison, three years supervised release following that, $1,300 in fines, and more than $14,000 restitution for his victimless crime. All because beltway bureaucrats didn’t like an Amish farmer’s homemade labels.