Mary, Mary, Why You Buggin'?


Pittsburgh-based U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan is back in the news. You may remember her from such hits as, "the first federal obscenity case in 20 years," "the railroading of Dr. Bernard Rottschaefer," "the overtly political prosecution of Dr. Cyril Wecht," and "I spent $12 million in taxpayer money to convict Tommy Chong of selling bongs."

Buchanan's latest effort is a sting on companies that sell masking devices to help people pass drug tests. Earlier this month, federal agents raided nine locations in six states where they suspected sales of products like the "Whizzinator," made famous by actor Tom Sizemore and Minnesota Vikings running back Onterrio Smith. There's no specific federal law criminalizing the sale of masking products, and none of the sites raided by federal agents were actually in Buchanan's district. My guess is that she's likely to charge manufacturers who ship the products into states that do have broad drug paraphernalia laws, or that have specific laws against masking products, under federal conspiracy statutes.

But it gets better. In the raid on Spectrum Labs in Newport, Kentucky, federal agents seized 8,000-10,000 copies of the movie AKA Tommy Chong. The movie is a documentary critical of Buchanan and the federal government's persecution of Chong. Federal agents apparently think it's drug paraphernalia.

"It's a way to punish the distributor financially," Mr. Chong said. "There's no way to get the DVDs back until the investigation is over." Mr. Chong said he has no ownership in the film.

He called the documentary a "focal point" of the raid. It was released about a month ago, and sales were slow, Mr. Chong said.

"It's selling like crazy now, thanks to Mary Beth. She's brought us a nice publicity gimmick."

Buy your very own copy of the movie here.