Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another victim of the war on drugs.

Here is a story which I think you will be hearing more about in the near future.

Just a little while ago I got a phone call from the Rev. Ronald Carson of Michigan. What started as a business call developed very quickly into something else when Rev. Carson mentioned something that had happened to him and his wife. And I thought I’d share his story here.

Rev. Carson is a local gospel preacher in not far outside Detroit. He can be heard preaching every Sunday morning on the local gospel radio station. Normally Rev. Carson and I wouldn’t have much in common, me being the horrible atheist that I am. But Rev. Carson was a victim as well and my natural inclination is to want to defend the victims of the world. Hell, that’s why I’m a libertarian -- protecting people from the biggest victimizer of them all -- the state.

And it was Big Brother that victimized Rev. Carson. Like many ministers Rev. Carson doesn’t rely on the income from his preaching alone. He has a sideline. He and his wife own a pharmacy. Of course they hire a licensed pharmacist to operate it.

One day, around two years ago, the Drug Enforcement Agency strong-armed their way in the pharmacy and into Rev. Carson’s home. They were investigating a local physician. The DEA alleges the physician was doing something wrong. The Carson-owned pharmacy had merely filled a prescription they were given. The prescription itself was valid in every way. It was not forged by sent to them by a licensed physician. It was verified as legitimate with the physician.

But the DEA contends the physician shouldn’t have given it out. Gee, aren’t we lucky to have DEA agents who are also physicians and experts in their fields with the ability to override physicians and save us from ourselves. The pharmacy’s involvement in all this was filling prescriptions and nothing more.

But the DEA gestapo raided the pharmacy and Rev. Carson’s home. His home was raided because he owned the pharmacy which filled the legitimate prescription issued by a licensed physician. And the DEA decided to help themselves to Rev. Carson’s assets. They emptied personal and business bank accounts and walked off with around $500,000.

Rev. Carson was shocked. He didn’t do anything wrong. And apparently the DEA agrees since no charges of any kind have been filed against Rev. Carson or against this pharmacy. Certainly in the last two years the DEA had plenty of times to file charges if they had any reason to do so. But nothing. On the other hand, just because they haven’t filed charges doesn’t mean they want to return the money they stole out of Carson’s bank account. Not at all, that they are still attempting to keep.

Along the way they told Rev. Carson that he might also be guilty of “money laundering”. Money laundering is another one of those federal crimes that is vague and meaningless thus allowing government to file ludicrous charges against for doing virtually nothing. In Rev. Carson’s case he was told he might be guilty of this crime because he moved some funds from one of his bank accounts, that was earning almost no interest, to another one of his bank accounts where the interest was higher. Merely moving funds from one account to another brought the ominous threat of “money laundering” against the Minister.

Until today Rev. Carson hasn’t said much about the case. He seems to have believed that since he didn’t do anything wrong that the government would eventually see the light and give him his money back. Rev. Carson is stuck in a time-warp, he still holds the forgotten ideal of an honest government which wouldn’t hurt innocent people. The war on drugs, among many other programs, has smashed that ideal.

Rev. Carson is another victim of the puritanical zeal of the Drug Warriors. And while I don’t cotton much to the use of drugs, especially the illegal kinds, I have no sympathy for the destructive, violent war on drugs. What ever problems drugs cause the war on drugs makes them worse. Rev. Carson became a victim of the war on drugs, another one of many. But it wasn’t drug dealers who victimized him but drug warriors. Drug usage may harm those who choose to use them (usually not, but it’s possible). The war on drugs doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t inflict its harm merely on the “guilty”. It harms innocent people as well, and Rev. Carson is one of those people.

I hope his story gets more play. And if I have anything to say about it, it will. I’ve passed the story on to others who can report on it and I’m hoping that, with some negative publicity for the thugs in the DEA, the DEA might actually admit they overacted and return Rev. Carson’s money. But I wouldn’t count on it. Drugs are bad, but the DEA is worse.

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