Drug Policy

Claiming Control of an Element, the DEA Puts an Old Man Out of Business. For the Children.

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The San Jose Mercury News reports that the Drug Enforcement Administration has squashed an 88-year-old entreprenur's business because his product, iodine crystals used to purify water, has shown up in some meth labs. The DEA won't let Bob Wallace, a retired metallurgist who runs his business out of his Sarasota garage along with his 85-year-old girlfriend, buy the iodine he needs to make his Polar Pure crystals unless he implements prohibitively expensive security measures. Wallace's reaction:

"This old couple, barely surviving old farts, and we're supposed to be meth dealers? This is just plain stupid," Wallace said, as he sat in the nerve center of his not-so-clandestine compound surrounded by contoured hiking maps, periodic tables and the prototypes of metal snowshoes he invented a few years ago. "These are the same knotheads that make you take your shoes off in the airport."

The DEA's justification:

"Methamphetamine is an insidious drug that causes enormous collateral damage," wrote Barbara Carreno, a DEA spokeswoman. "If Mr. Wallace is no longer in business he has perhaps become part of that collateral damage, for it was not a result of DEA regulations, but rather the selfish actions of criminal opportunists. Individuals that readily sacrifice human lives for money."

Insidious drugs did not put Wallace out of business. An insidious drug war did that.

[via Boing Boing, by way of Radley Balko's Twitter feed]