Here’s a kind of funny story to end the year with. I make a big deal on these pages about the decriminalized reality of personal drug importation. Federal law prohibits under most circumstances importing prescription drugs for your own use, but people are never busted for it. I’ve been around this a long time and I mean never. But that’s for personal use only. Recently, 20 U.S. air marshals in Dallas, Texas were disciplined for “smuggling” Viagra into the United States. They bought it at lower prices outside the U.S., brought it back, and gave it to their colleagues or sold it for a “small profit,” as reported in Yahoo News. So, are they in any real trouble?

It appears the answer is not really—at least not yet. The names of the air marshals are not public because they have not been charged with a crime. Some were suspended for a few days. One resigned. No one was terminated. However, two may be terminated based on “evidence uncovered during the investigation.” I would guess that those two were dabbling in the resale of stronger pharmaceuticals.

The scandal is referred to as “Bonergate”. The main thrust of the news coverage is that many of the 3,000 air marshals tasked with protecting flights from terrorism in the wake of 9-11 have been outed for various misdeeds. I’m going to remain agnostic on that issue. One comment made by Bill Beller the air marshal chapter president for the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association is worthy of note:

“We have pride in our positions, and some people — whatever they did — I believe it was an error or error in judgment…”

Maybe. In contrast, Americans are using good judgment when buying medications for their own use from other countries because they can’t afford it here, as long as they do so wisely from licensed sources and possess a prescription for those medications. Bonergate may be funny, but the laws that curtail safe personal drug importation are no joke. Especially not to the millions of Americans who have to skip medications each year due to domestic costs. Big Pharma, on the other hand, is laughing all the way to the bank.

Happy New Year.

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