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Federal Overreach: Amish Man Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison for Improper FDA Labeling
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.Published in General
And they didn’t even get to the bottom of this world-wide terrorist organization’s evil plot to avoid slow moving vehicle signs. Well, it’s a start.
But honestly, I hate this kind of bureaucratic BS. This is how you get more Trump.
Trump should pardon him. Aside from being a just result, it would be great PR.
This is government regulatory insanity in a nutshell. On the one hand, left-leaning-government-regulation-friendly leftists push “small and local” and on the other they push the very regulatory overreach that makes such things impossible.
This same thing is happening in Europe, where EU bureaucrats have driven many small purveyors of locally produced traditionally cured meats, cheeses, etc. out of business.
The problem with those old Amish recipes is that they tend to be a bit buggy.
You’re lucky the Amish don’t use the Internet, because they would never put up with that joke.
Does the Trump White House website have a petition-generator the way Obama had? We could launch a petition drive for a presidential pardon.
all this aside, it appears Samuel was not giving up the “home remedy” business easily. usually when you’re in court when jail time is a possibility the judge kind of insists you have a lawyer (I know from experience – trespassing, give me a break) so I wonder why they didn’t give Samuel one.
As sympathetic as I am, this kind of argument has been tried for years, mostly by people who claim they don’t have to pay income tax. Typically the arguments made by the Amish are more along the render to God and Caesar kind. This guy sounds like he’s being advised by Dale Gribbel or reading from a Ron Paul newsletter.
“Clip clop clip clop clip clop BANG clip clop clip clop”
— An Amish drive-by
Obama was all about not enforcing the law for favored groups and giving them a pass. Trump might want to think about smiling upon the Amish.
…because everyone knows when you want cutting edge pharmaceuticals you buy Amish!
Regulators think they’re gods and we’re mere children incapable of deciding anything for ourselves. Nuts.
Calling Dr. Scott Gottlieb! This is his territory. Trump should pardon him right now.
Being Amish is no excuse for not following the law. I don’t see this as over reach.
The law may or may not be foolish, but it is the law. Just because he believes in being backwards and magical beings doesn’t grant him license to break the law. Period. If he doesn’t like the law, he should work to change it. I’ll be happy to pitch in with him. But until the law is changed, and as long as the law isn’t completely immoral, then a civil society needs to observe the laws. We’re not all democrats in this country . . .
This is, in fact, the question at order. The FDA doesn’t have jurisdiction over herbal remedies (that’s the FTC). Other crankiness about submitting to judicial processes aside, he is correct about this part, and the FDA claiming that his products are drugs does not make them so.
Hmmm… If he claimed it cured AIDS, would life be harder or easier for him?
The problem is over-regulation by legislation and administrative action. I just recently encountered a situation involving selling fruits and vegetables as “organic”. (Don’t, before you consult an attorney).
The gent should have sold the stuff as a cosmetic! There is apparently no restriction on the claims that can be made for such products: reduces wrinkles! Tightens skin! Really? (No).
From my youth (long distant) I remember a case about a housewife (that’s how old I am) who decided to sell the excess jam she made from the trees in her garden. She went to a market and sold her homemade plum jam. The health authorities came after her, insisting that if she wanted to sell food she needed to comply with first this regulation, then that one, then… Being a law-abiding person, she complied. In the end, she had had to create an industrial kitchen in her back yard.
Then they told her it was misleading and deceptive to describe her jam as “homemade”.
But the title is “Federal Overreach”. Why is this a Federal crime? What possible legitimate interest does the Federal government have in this activity?
Mr. Trump should have an office of Making America Great Again which would bring him all the cases he should pardon & all the crazy overreaches should stop…
There is no legitimate federal power to have an FDA. An FDA exists nonetheless. I would do away with the FDA, but until it is gone, they are the law.
Yes, but he isn’t just offering salves, he is proclaiming to be able to treat diseases. If he simply said it softened and soothed the skin, that’s one thing. But to claim that his quackery removes tumors is beyond the pale. Of course, the story leads with the herbal ointment, not the tumor claims.
Have you ever looked at an herbal supplement before? There is a very important disclaimer:
“This product is not intended to treat, cure or prevent any condition or disease.”
Because he claimed that the herbal remedy cured diseases, he was required to follow the manufacturing rules. Even major academic institutions have a hard time with FDA GMP standards. He also had to prove the medication was effective with trials. Basically, it is prohibitively expensive to market a curative agent.
Now, herbal supplements have basically no testing except for safety. There is no guarantee you get what is on the label – testing has shown that some supplements completely lack their supposed active ingredient.
All that said, imprisoning him was the action of a stupid thug.
He sold the fraudulent products produced in Kentucky in Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois, the latter three after losing a court case in Missouri. If the interstate commerce clause does not apply to that, what do you believe it should apply to?
Six years seems surprisingly long, but the prohibition of the multistate sale of fraudulent goods seems like precisely the sort of thing best managed by the Federal government.
Meanwhile, another guy pushes a quack cure by putting the label on it, “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.” And the FDA has done nothing about it.
After pardoning him, the President should fire everyone involved in the harassment and close that piece of the FDA. I don’t suppose we’ll ever close the FDA.
Objection: facts not in evidence. There has been no finding of fraud. Just failure to comply with onerous federal regulations. Oh and he talked to somebody too.
FDA was not intended to address efficacy of pharmaceuticals, just safety. The efficacy mandate was added later initially through a misinterpretation of the safety mandate, followed by legislative action.
I applaud his civil disobedience.
What did the complainant in Missouri get out of this? Should have been a jail sentence for stupid. We can’t have people like that out on the streets! A danger to himself and others!
Is it your position that To-mor-gone actually removes tumors? The Federal regulations aren’t that onerous for herbal products; for most of the products he just had to stop making claims about what his products achieve that were unsupportable. For To-mor-gone, he also had to stop giving instructions for use that were likely to result in scarring. He had to allow the FDA to inspect his plant. And he had to engage in a temporary halt to production.
Well, fine, but even that covers this.
I’d love to see the FDA rendered dramatically more friendly toward manufacturers (I don’t think it would be helpful to abolish it; a single regulatory regime dominating seems like a far better idea than 50 states and innumerable municipalities, and likely less open to corruption). I don’t get how the “Kentucky is not part of the USA” craziness is helpful to anyone. Other than draining our coffers by filling our jails and filling the coffers of the shysters who peddle the literature, who benefits?
State limitations on Commerce among the several States.