Samuel Girod [G as in Gee: gi-ROD] and his family have been making and selling three all-natural herbal products for nearly 20 years.
No one has ever been harmed by the products; the Girods have pages of testimonials and scores of repeat customers.
Similar products are currently made and sold online worldwide (including on Amazon) by other people using the same or similar basic ingredients. The recipes are online as well, you can make them in your kitchen.
How It Started
In 2001, an FDA agent informed Sam that his product labels were making medical claims regarding healing certain conditions. At the time, Sam’s label said, ““[g]ood for all skin disorders. Skin cancer, cuts, burns, draws, and poison ivy.”
Sam had to change his label, removing the skin cancer claim specifically, or do very expensive testing proving the claims. Sam changed the label, removing any reference to skin cancer.
The MO Injunction
Sam did not receive any further communication from the FDA until 2012 when someone called the FDA and reported that a store in MO was selling Sam’s products and that medical claims were being made.
The “medical claims” were in fact customer testimonials contained in a brochure about Sam’s products! These testimonials are no different than Amazon reviews, yet, since Sam reprinted his customer testimonials in a brochure, the FDA calls these “medical claims” which puts Sam’s products under their jurisdiction.
So sayeth the FDA.
Then the FDA claimed to have found a MO customer who had been harmed by Sam’s bloodroot salve.
In early 2013, based on the brochures and the claim of harm, the FDA took Sam to federal court in MO.
During investigation on this action, FDA agents went to Sam’s home and demanded a warrantless search. Wanting to be cooperative, Sam said OK on one condition: that no photographs were taken (Sam’s Amish community are religiously opposed to photography). The agents said no problem, no photos.
Then they got on the property, whipped out their cameras and took photos of everything. This did not go over well with the Amish.
Also, as the MO court case proceeded, the Girods discover that, not only was the alleged injured party never identified, the bloodroot salve used by the victim wasn’t even Sam’s!
Yet the federal judge in MO put an injunction on Sam’s products with three stipulations:
- none could be sold until all medical claims were removed (referring to the brochures);
- Sam’s bloodroot salve could never be sold again EVER (1); and
- Sam had to allow inspection of his property where the products were made FOR FIVE YEARS.
Sam complied with 1 and 2: he stopped selling the bloodroot salve and stopped using the brochures. He was not so compliant with the searches.
Sam Refuses the 2nd Search
(This refusal is what lead to Counts 1 & 2 in the indictment)
In late 2013, after the injunction was issued, FDA agents came to do a second search. Sam informed them that nothing had changed since the first search 7 months earlier, and that, since they had lied and taken photos during the first search, they were not welcome to do a second.
The FDA agents had a Bath County Sheriff’s deputy along with them. This sheriff witnessed the entire event and eventually told the agents to leave the property.
Sales of these three products — Chickweed Salve, Sine Eze (an essential oil inhaler) and To-Mor-Gone (bloodroot salve) — are how Sam’s family had made their living for 20 years. No victims, scores of repeat customers.
The only thing that gave the FDA jurisdiction over Sam’s products is the FDA’s definition of the word “drug”. In fact, the entire case hinges on this definition.
Because Sam made what the FDA considers “medical claims”, the FDA says that classifies his products as “drugs” and gives them jurisdiction.
Even though both the FDA and Sam had his products tested in independent labs and all parties agreed that there were no drugs in the products, that they were made from all-natural plant-based materials… simply because he’d made “medical claims”, the FDA got to classify them as “drugs” and claim jurisdiction.
When Sam removed the medical claims (the brochures), these same products went back to being natural salves and the FDA lost jurisdiction.
So, even though the MO judge had not lifted the injunction (possibly because of Sam’s refusal to allow the 2nd search), the Girods started selling their products again.
At some point in the next year, Sam started a legal private membership club and sold his products to members via that framework. Perfectly legal and the Girods believed this allowed them to sell the products despite the injunction.
Meanwhile, the FDA started criminal proceedings against Sam for disobeying the injunction (selling his products and refusing the search) plus two other very serious charges:
1. The FDA agents claimed that, when they came for the 2nd search in late 2013, Sam and his family threatened them with physical violence. If you have any experience at all with the Amish, this is ludicrous enough. Plus, the Sheriff’s deputy testified under oath that absolutely no threats were made, nobody was violent and that essentially, the FDA agents had lied under oath.
2. The FDA also charged Sam with witness tampering. The witness who was supposedly tampered with? Read the eyewitness account of Mary Miller’s testimony, link below. (2)
The Trial 2.27.17
The Amish do not use lawyers as a rule and Sam did not. This is a decision made by the community, not just the accused. Apparently the Amish don’t trust lawyers. Imagine that.
Because he barely presented a defense against federal prosecutors for whom money and conscience are not problems, Sam was convicted on all counts. (3)
The judge ordered Sam to remain in jail until sentencing on 6/16/17. He’s been in jail since late January 2017.
Had Sam had a good attorney, he would certainly have been acquitted on the most egregious counts (threatening federal agents and witness tampering). These charges were clearly manufactured solely to make Sam into a “real” criminal, with the FDA being the only victim.
The only other charges — selling “drugs” across state lines — were manufactured out of whole cloth as well. The FDA’s own tests proved that the products were not drugs, that they were made from all-natural ingredients!!! These charges should have been dismissed from the start.
On 6/30, Sam was sentenced to 6 years in prison and $14,000 in fines/restitution (although nobody asked for restitution. Because there are no victims. Read about the sentencing here.
- How does the FDA get away with determining what constitutes a “medical claim”?
- How are they able to define “drug” so broadly that a topical salve made from all edible ingredients becomes a “drug?”
- Why are Amazon reviews ok but Sam’s customers’ testimonials a basis for criminal charges?
- How is the FDA able to create criminal penalties for violation of arbitrary rules?
- How does this kind of action against an Amish grandfather making salves from all-natural ingredients protect the public, particularly considering that every 19 minutes, someone dies from an FDA-approved pharmaceutical, an actual drug that has been tested and “proven safe”?
- How will Sam’s incarceration make the American public any safer?
- Considering that no one was harmed by his products, how has spending millions of dollars on Sam’s prosecution and 16 years of harassment made the world a better place?
How about if Americans make healing claims on our products with the disclaimer, “These claims have not been scientifically proven. Please use your internet and library to verify claims to your own satisfaction prior to use.”
Sam’s prosecution is a prime example of bureaucracy run amok, enforcement for enforcement’s sake to justify an agency’s existence.
There are literally thousands of people in jail (4) for breaking agency regulations fabricated by the agencies! Their rules and regulations are as arbitrary and illegal as they can be, with the result of making us all criminals in our own homes.
Who exactly is being protected here?
Please continue to contact your representatives, details here.
(1) In the indictment, bloodroot is repeatedly referred to as “dangerous” with no documentation whatsoever. Bloodroot is from a plant grown in North America, it’s perfectly legal and used by millions of people for centuries for healing purposes. Bloodroot products are sold all over the internet, including on Amazon.
(2) Mary Miller is the 2nd witness called: http://www.kyfreepress.com/2017/03/trial-fda-v-samuel-girod-day-2/