November 23, 2011

Unclear on the concept - governmental overreach

I love this guy -- from the San Jose Mercury News:
Federal agents say 88-year-old Saratoga man's invention is being used by meth labs
Eighty-eight-year-old retired metallurgist Bob Wallace is a self-described tinkerer, but he hardly thinks of himself as the Thomas Edison of the illegal drug world.

He has nothing to hide. His product is packaged by hand in a cluttered Saratoga garage. It's stored in a garden shed in the backyard. The whole operation is guarded by an aged, congenial dog named Buddy.

But federal and state drug enforcement agents are coming down hard on Wallace's humble homemade solution, which he concocted to help backpackers purify water.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and state regulators say druggies can use the single ingredient in his "Polar Pure" water purifier -- iodine -- to make crystal meth.

Wallace says federal and state agents have effectively put him out of business, because authorities won't clear the way for him to buy or sell the iodine he needs for his purification bottles. He has been rejected for a state permit by the Department of Justice and is scheduled to appeal his case before an administrative judge in Sacramento next month.

Meanwhile, the exasperated Stanford University-educated engineer and his 85-year-old girlfriend said the government -- in its zeal to clamp down on meth labs -- has instead stopped hikers, flood victims and others from protecting themselves against a bad case of the runs.
A bit more:
Wallace and his partner, Marjorie Ottenberg, came up with the idea about 30 years ago as they planned to scale the PopocatÚpetl volcano in Mexico.

Hoping to avoid Montezuma's revenge, Ottenberg, a chemist by trade, read an article in Backpacker magazine about two doctors who had been infected with Giardia and recommended treating water with crystalline iodine.

"We knew the water was questionable down there, so we stole their idea," Wallace said with an unapologetic grin.

So in 1983, the couple began selling their brown bottles with a small sprinkling of iodine crystals -- about a quarter of an ounce -- in the bottom.

Polar Pure was an instant, if modest, hit among backpackers and world travelers. It was effective, light and never expired, unlike many other products. One bottle can disinfect about 2,000 quarts of water.

But about four years ago, the DEA began to look closely at the product, even citing it in a position paper, and suggested that it was being used by cranksters as well as campers.
A little bit more:
In May, his Oklahoma distributor -- warned by the DEA -- said he could no longer send Wallace iodine.

For Wallace to comply, the state Department of Justice fingerprinted the couple and told Wallace he needed to show them such things as a solid security system for his product. Wallace sent a photograph of Buddy sitting on the front porch.

"These guys don't go for my humor," Wallace said. "Cops are the most humorless knotheads on the planet." Even so, Marco Campagna, Wallace's lawyer, promised to strengthen security and make other improvements to allay the government's concerns.
The polar pure website is here: polar pure The design is very clever. As one commenter said:
Heroin addicts use spoons to liquefy their product, the feds should ban those next.
There are so many other sources for iodine out there -- many of your food-grade sanitizers, antiseptic soaps, etc... Crystallize it out and you are ready to roll. Posted by DaveH at November 23, 2011 6:06 PM