Another casualty in the War on Drugs: an enthusiastic science student, of the sort that would normally go on to be a scientist, is arrested for having a chemistry lab.
A Canadian college student majoring in chemistry built himself a home lab – and discovered that trying to do science in your own home quickly leads to accusations of drug-making and terrorism.
Lewis Casey, an 18-year-old in Saskatchewan, had built a small chemistry lab in his family’s garage near the university where he studies. Then two weeks ago, police arrived at his home with a search warrant and based on a quick survey of his lab determined that it was a meth lab. They pulled Casey out of the shower to interrogate him, and then arrested him.
A few days later, police admitted that Casey’s chemistry lab wasn’t a meth lab – but they kept him in jail, claiming that he had some of the materials necessary to produce explosives. Friends and neighbors wrote dozens of letters to the court, testifying that Casey was innocent and merely a student who is really enthusiastic about chemistry.
Errm, having the “materials necessary to produce explosives” is an awfully low bar to set. If we’re going to go that route, let’s round up and arrest all the farmers — they’ve got fuel oil and fertilizer in bulk, and are a far more serious danger.
Don’t criminalize reagents. Monitor them, sure, but instead target the products of criminal chemistry. Anything else is going to have lots of false positives and is going to damage science education.