WALTER R. CLEMENT B.S, MS., MBA., NORMAN J CLEMENT RPH DDS
APRIL 9, 2020
On January 7, 2020, owner Aaron Howard PharmD of At Cost Pharmacy, Fort Meyers, Florida, found himself surrounded by 7 DEA agents ordering an Immediate Suspension of his Control Substance license and seizing his property. The order was signed by Acting DEA Chief Uttam DHilllion, who, as in previous orders issued to other Black own pharmacies, to be deemed “an imminent danger to public health and safety.”
Since June 2019, we have tracked nearly 12 Black own Pharmacies being attacked in a similar manner by agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). While Black Own Pharmacies represent less than 1% of all privately owned family establishments they appear to be disproportionately targeted by DEA and State regulators in what is said to be “Practicing Pharmacy While Black.”
The initial contact with the DEA for AT COST PHARMACY and its owner Aaron Howard PharmD, 2003 graduate of Florida A&M University, College of Pharmacy, started on February 14, 2018, the Special Agent, or Task Force Officer of the Drug Enforcement Administration of the Department of Justice conducted raid based on a signed search warrant that failed to describe or define the elements of a crime.
This search warrant was decrepitude in that it failed to illustrate and support the rudimentary descriptions defining Probable Cause. The investigator wrote, “Application having been made, and probable cause as defined by 21 U.S.C. § 880(d)(1) having been shown by the affidavit of Diversion Investigator Norita N. Persaud, United States Drug Enforcement Administration, for an inspection of the controlled premises of Aarric, Inc., dba At Cost Rx, 16970 San Carlos Boulevard, Suite 110, Fort Myers, FL 33908, with DEA number FA2125640, it appears that said inspection is appropriate under 21 U.S.C. § 880”.
The investigator agent clearly expressed his limited knowledge of probable cause as defined by 21 U.S.C. § 880(d)(1). Yet, he did not, within the search warrant, describe the place to be searched and the descriptive elements to support and clearly identify any elements of a crime that would provide a reasonable officer to conclude that probable cause exists.
This vague regulation is fraught with misconceptions. In Gonzales, the Attorney General thought he could interpret “legitimate medical purpose” under § 1306.04(a). Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. 243 (2006). The Administrative Court explained, however, he exceeded his limited authority under the Act. Id. More recently, the Court. Ruan v. United States, 597 U.S. ___ (2022) (slip op.). determine to whether “knowingly” applied to “except as authorized” under the CSA brought the regulation back before
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ZELLE 3135103378 or Donate to the “Pharmacist For Healthcare Legal Defense Fund,”
In ignoring Gonzales, the DEA has interpreted “legitimate medical purpose” so that a pharmacy violates its corresponding responsibility whether or not there is evidence of a prescription’s illegitimacy (see APP-25,97). Holiday CVS, Fed. Reg. 62316 (2012). This ultra vires authority has allowed the DEA to discipline pharmacists for failing to resolve “red flags” before filling a prescription. However, “red flags” are guidelines created by the DEA in which the agency “lacks the authority to issue guidelines that constitute advice relating to the general practice of medicine and further lacks authority to promulgate new regulations regarding the treatment of pain.
The signed warrant authorized the investigating Agent “to seize from the above-described controlled premises such of the following records, information, reports, documents, files and inventories, as are appropriate and necessary to the effective accomplishment of the inspection, and for the purpose of copying or verifying their correctness, or that are used or intended to be used in violation of the Controlled Substances Act whether in electronic or printed media format as noted above”.
The Supreme Court has defined “probable cause” as an officer’s reasonable belief, based on circumstances known to that officer, that a crime has occurred or is about to occur. Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132, 149 (1925).
By fact, this inspection warrant lacked sufficient levels of evidence to support probable cause. The act to inspect the premises was not based on a reasonable officer. As a nation, we must feat the acts of this search so that a law enforcement officer can obtain a baseless warrant and search a premise at will.
The act of the DEA to inspect without cause violates the “Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Which protects the people’s right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
After the inspection, the investigating officer was further authorized to seize legally sanctioned ‘Class two, three, and four controlled substances from the premises;
The agent wrote, “Such of the following records, information, reports, documents, files, and inventories, as is appropriate and necessary to the effective accomplishment of the inspection, and for the purpose of copying or verifying their correctness, or that is used or intended to be used in violation of the Controlled Substances Act whether in electronic or printed media format.”
This inspection warrant is a document to look and examine. However, nothing in the warrant authorized the inspection to reason if a crime took place.
The 4th amendment clearly establishes the groundwork of a search and seizure. The agents failed to address the elements of evidence obtained through an unlawful search or seizure. Under “Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961). Any evidence derived from illegally obtained evidence must also be suppressed.”
Thus, the courts have a fiduciary duty to safeguard the public, in as such, the criminal justice functions are there to protect the public from harm. Such acts within this search is an assault upon every American. If our protections are eroded, then whom shall we depend upon if the police and the courts act at will?
Return all items taken and redress all monetary losses to the operator owner of Aarric, Inc. Rx, 16970 San Carlos Boulevard, Suite 110, Fort Myers, FL 33908, Our constitution stands on years of rulings and reforms.
We are “One Nation Under God with Liberty and Justice for All”
BLACK-OWNED PHARMACIES ARE SYSTEMATICALLY AND RACIALLY PROFILED
Let it further be clear, patients being treated for chronic pain who travel to a Black-owned pharmacy are called “RED FLAGS” by the DEA and these pharmacies are classified as imminent dangers to “Public Health.” While the same patients travel to non-black-owned pharmacies, with the same prescriptions, using the exact same payment methodology, the fictitious label of “red flags” does not truly exist.
However, the large chain pharmacies and their parent companies clearly violate laws through false billings and even forged prescriptions on their part, while the DEA collects billions of dollars in what amounts to “extortion fines” and the large chains are given a pass. These warnings remain ever so obliterated, and one cannot ignore the functions of how race works in these types of proceedings.
The common man or woman has very little understanding of how so-called drug policies directly affect their daily living, until they become are diagnosed with some chronic illness or have a loved one who may be facing death. Then, the importance of chronic illness and disease states is ever so critical.
FOR NOW, YOU’RE WITHIN