Destroying Families and Seizing Shipments, Customs and Border Protection Have Small Dick Energy

You’d think U.S. Customs and Border Protection would have their hands full in 2020. What with separating children from their families and keeping nonviolent people fleeing violence unconstitutionally incarcerated during a pandemic. But no, they’ve got bigger fish to fry.

Those bigger fish? Stealing alleged “drug paraphernalia” from entrepreneurs. 

Powerhitter’s Seized

In late January a Powerhitter container of $315,000 worth of 9000 units of inventory was seized at the Port of Seattle by US Customs and Border Protection.

“When my shipment came in, it landed in the Port of Seattle, and then we didn’t hear anything for close to a month,” Allen Stein, the CEO, and founder of Powerhitter told The Sesh. “And then finally, a third-party logistics company picked it up and brought it to Kent Washington, which we paid for. There it had to go through a giant x-ray machine, we had to pay for that. We had to pay for all of that. We’re paying for storage, we’re paying for the privilege of having government contractors seize our materials.”

Nearly six months later, the inventory is still sitting there untouched. Is it even legal to seize non-drug items? If CBP can prove that the Powerhitter’s main use is illegal cannabis, then yes. But it’s not even close to that simple.  

The Defense

“The reality is, we know we have significant non-drug uses,” Powerhitter Attorney Thomas Osinski told The Sesh. “The farm bill has passed, so people could use it to smoke hemp. The Powerhitter is the safest way to smoke anything, even if it’s loose tobacco or cloves.”

The Powerhitter was also patented by the federal government in 1979. If it were solely or even mainly for smoking cannabis, why would the federal government grant it a patent?

With all of the potential non-drug uses of the Powerhitter, aside from making money why would CBP even bother with the seizure? 

“It’s confirmation bias. Having it be legal recreationally, and having a presence on the internet, if someone has that agenda, and they want to try to claim that stuff is primarily for drug use, all they have to do is Google it. You start out with an agenda, and then find evidence to back it up.” Osinski explained. 

It’s not just Powerhitter who is affected by these murky, discretionary laws. The Sesh advertiser Uncle Ike’s had a number of items seized, including glass jars. Claiming the primary use of glass jars is for cannabis storage is odd, and clearly inaccurate. 

The Response

So why does CBP even bother? They’re messing with entrepreneurs who have money to hire lawyers, it seems like an odd self-flagellating choice.

The Sesh reached out to CBP for a response. 

“Despite certain U.S. states having legalized the use of recreational marijuana including related paraphernalia, it remains a controlled substance under U.S. federal law,” A representative for CBP told The Sesh via email.  “[The] importation of marijuana or related paraphernalia into the U.S. remains illegal and is subject to forfeiture or seizure depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. The seizure of these items is not a high priority for CBP, however, if CBP encounters them, they will be subject to seizure.”

 The Future

Like so much of law enforcement, it seems CBP can navigate the more gray area laws they enforce with a good amount of discretion. It’s troubling that people with so much power use it to be a pain in the ass for legitimate business people, that is when they’re not destroying families.

On a personal note, in late February I was going through customs on my way back from my dad’s house in Mexico with my son and husband. As we’re not frequent international travelers, we were wondering if we should go in separate lines to help keep the line moving or go through customs together. 

A CBP officer informed us that we should go through the line together. “We’re not in the business of separating families,” the agent quipped. 

Well, we all know that’s a lie. If my experience and the seizures are any indications, it appears the CBP officers are just complete and utter assholes. To put it simply, Customs and Border protection have small dick energy. 

 

Image courtesy US Customs and Border Protection