Making a living can be hard these days.

Typically, most can work through it and continue to produce their products and services with the feeling that the marketplace will eventually reward them for the fruits of their labors. Despite President Donald Trump's ascension and vow to alleviate regulatory burdens, inputting a little but at a time isn't enough when it really counts.

This is exactly the case for Amish man Samuel A. Girod of Bath County, Kentucky.

Girod fell a victim to an over-criminalized legal code when he was charged and sentenced by a federal jury for selling herbal health products that were non-compliant with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the areas of the federal statutes the agency oversees and enforce.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that Girod was given a sentence of six years in prison for a slew violations. A federal jury convicted Girod on the grounds that he was not a registered drug producer with the FDA, he distributed misbranded drugs, he allegedly tampered with a witness, he blocked a federal investigation, he failed to appear at a federal hearing, and he obstructed proceedings of a federal agency.

Though a sticky situation and that the decision of the court must stand--even if we hate it, Girod's case is a unique one as it provides a platform to discuss the intersections of religious liberty, economic liberty, and governmental regulation.

Dietary Supplement v. Medical Drug

First off, one of Girod's major arguments was that his products that have been classified as "drugs" are not medical remedies, rather they're herbal remedies that aren't subject to approval for sale by the FDA.

These remedies--in an opinion that favors Girod over the federal prosecution--would be classified as dietary supplements that receive very different oversight than regular medicines and foods. Manufacturers of these products don't require FDA approval to substantiate claims of a products' benefits.

Though the FDA retains the right to monitor for safety while in market circulation, dietary supplements do need an FDA approval for sale.

The Mayo Clinic states that "herbal supplements haven't been subjected to the same scientific scrutiny and aren't as strictly regulated as medications. For example, although makers of herbal supplements must follow good manufacturing practices — to ensure that supplements are processed consistently and meet quality standards — they don't have to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before putting their products on the market."


Religious Liberty and Economic Freedom

Girod argued his case while representing himself before the proceedings of the federal court. Aside from the differentiation of a dietary supplement to a medical drug, a case could be made that Girod's religious and economic freedom were violated because of the FDA's alleged violation of his personal consent.

Girod wished to produce and sell products that fell in line with his religious principles. Of which, his principles dictate that mainstream medicine is not the best solution for personal health care for himself or his family.

Essentially, the products he created--in a crass, mainstream point of view--are merely snake oil treatments that gave people a placebo effect of rejuvenated health. Or not. Either way, he was following his own personal belief to sell products that he believes helps his family, consumers, and the economy.

Commonly, religious liberty and economic freedom are analyzed separately; however, the two issues can be intertwined to argue that following one's moral justification to react in the marketplace in a certain manner is justified.

When all is said, no one wins when tyranny reigns--even in a time when economic freedom is supposed to be at its best in nearly a decade.

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