Early on the morning of Monday, February 4th, 2013, Daniel Smith and his partner, Karis Delong, were getting their young daughter ready for school when federal agents appeared at their Ashland, Oregon home.
With their daughter looking on, the couple was arrested — as were two other colleagues in their company, Project GreenLife — for selling Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), a sodium chlorite tonic that is purported by its fans to combat yeasts, molds, fungi, viruses and bacteria.
The years that followed have been mired by an ongoing legal battle with the FDA and Department of Justice. The arrest in their Oregon home was so traumatizing for Smith and his family that they have since moved. Project GreenLife is no longer in business, Smith’s assets were seized under the controversial policy of asset forfeiture , and, most serious, he faces 37 years in prison. While his three associates made plea deals, Smith is scheduled to go to trial on March 2nd, 2015.
He has been cast by his many supporters — who span the globe and have flocked to his side online — as the noble underdog in a David-and-Goliath battle with the federal government.
Also known as Master Mineral Solution, MMS is a mixture of sodium chlorite and citric acid (like orange juice) in distilled water that has a robust following of people who drink it to remedy everything from the flu to malaria. Light in scientific support and heavy in anecdotal support, MMS is heralded as a miracle cure-all by supporters and demonized as a dangerous snake oil by the Food and Drug Administration — a tug-of-war that Reset explained in more detail in this recent article.
Smith’s interest in MMS dates back to his mother’s death in 2004, after which he launched himself into the world of natural, alternative health.
“She had walked into the hospital on her own with a bladder infection, [was] diagnosed with terminal cancer, doped on morphine and within a few days written off to die,” Smith explains via email.
Smith confronted the doctor about the nutrition — or lack thereof — being provided to his mother, to which he says the doctor responded, “I eat twinkles and drink Coca Cola. I’m a medical doctor, I know nothing about nutrition.”
Smith was disturbed by this retort. The words lodged into his mind, planting the seeds for what would, in 2007, become his company, Project GreenLife. “Seeing firsthand how the machinery operates, I was convinced that leaving one’s health in the hands of medical experts is really the worst thing anyone can do with the most valuable thing they may have,” he says. “Project GreenLife was supposed to be a way to help people get from ‘interested’ to ‘educated’ about alternative personal health.”
The company’s flagship product was MMS.
“It is believed by some that PGL was one of the largest distributors of MMS at one time, but it would be hard to know that for certain,” says Smith, who is reluctant to wager a more specific guess out of fear that the government would use his comments as further ammo in their attack against him.
Smith was turned onto the substance after reading The Miracle Mineral Solution of the 21st Century, a 2006 book by the discoverer and face of the global MMS scene, Jim Humble.
Humble’s website, MiracleMineral.org, describes MMS as “the answer to AIDS, hepatitis A, B and C, malaria, herpes, TB, most cancer and many more of mankind’s worse diseases.”
“So far, more than 5,000,000 people have used MMS, hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved and the suffering of hundreds of thousands more has been overcome,” it reads.
Humble’s site is plastered with pleas for support for StandWithDaniel.com, to which Humble lent a video message titled “MMS on Trial: A message from Jim Humble.” In it, he says: “This trial is also putting MMS on trial for the first time and we want to make it the last time. I hope you understand this fight is our fight — it is the fight of thousands of us who use MMS and of course those of us who may want to use MMS in the future… Can you imagine 37 years for selling something that makes people well?”
Official stances on MMS aren’t always consistent. In the United Kingdom, for instance, sodium chlorite received a special status in 2013 for treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Meanwhile, across the pond, the Canadian government seized the substance from an online retailer, buymms.biz, and implored its partaking citizens to “stop using MMS products immediately.” The government’s 2014 press release following the raid explained that there are no products containing sodium chlorite approved for human consumption in Canada. (It is, however, used for disinfecting water and approved “for use as a germicide by veterinarians and as a hard surface disinfectant.”)
In the United States, the FDA called sodium chlorite a “potent bleach” in a 2010 warning to residents.
“The product, when used as directed, produces an industrial bleach that can cause serious harm to health. The product instructs consumers to mix the 28 percent sodium chlorite solution with an acid such as citrus juice. This mixture produces chlorine dioxide, a potent bleach used for stripping textiles and industrial water treatment. High oral doses of this bleach, such as those recommended in the labeling, can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and symptoms of severe dehydration.”
The FDA reported having received “several reports” from people who got sick from drinking MMS.
FDA asked PGL to do a voluntary recall of MMS in 2010, which it did. PGL then, with no objection from the FDA according to Smith, transitioned into a private-member association, which allowed them to continue operations. Then, in 2011, federal agents raided Smith’s home, a bottling facility, and a fulfillment company.
After another two years and a few grand juries, an indictment was handed down that charged four PGL associates — Smith, Delong, a bottler and a customer support person — with fraudulently smuggling MMS into the country, misbranding it, and conspiring to defraud the FDA about this scheme.
“The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the health and safety of people with cancer and other serious medical conditions,” said Stuart F. Delery, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division in a February 2013 DOJ press release. “Our most vulnerable citizens need real medicine — not dangerous chemicals peddled by modern-day snake oil salesmen.”
The charges carry a maximum sentence of 37 years. The other three defendants have since pled guilty to misdemeanors “to avoid the potential of spending 37 years in prison,” says Smith. After all, he says, they aren’t who the government was truly after. As the believed intended target, Smith decided to hold out for his day in court.
“I would rather live my truth and face the giant — no matter what the cost — than live a life of mediocrity avoiding or running from cowards and bullies that hide behind lies, badges, and guns,” he says. “Many have come this far and given up. If I don’t stand, who will? I have also not pled because once the other three pled out, I knew the only way to save them was to and stay in the fight. My goal now is to shine a light. I could not do that before they pled out for fear the government would retaliate against the people I love.”
According to Smith, PGL never doubted the legality of what they were doing — still to this day they stand by the claim that everything they did was above board. Although the legal saga put PGL out of business, MMS is still easy to buy elsewhere on the Internet. However, the outcome of Smith’s case could very well change this.
“This case is more about setting precedent to make something otherwise perfectly legal into something illegal,” Smith says. “You can still buy it on the web and in [alternative] health stores. The FDA wants to stop that — and instead of going after everyone else, they want to fry one fish and create precedent with that.”
But why, then, was he chosen as the fish to be fried?
For one, Smith believes the FDA wanted to show their disapproval of PGL’s formation of a private association [a legal maneuver that those selling raw milk have used with varying success]. Secondly, he says sodium chlorite was on its way to becoming a drug in the FDA’s eyes, in which case “there were interests to be protected. Pharma must post quarterly profits or Wall Street fails and so goes the economy. The FDA’s selective enforcement policies are in line with that intent.”
Today, Smith is keeping faith with the approach of his forthcoming trial. He’s in the midst of a 40-day hunger strike to catch the attention of Congress, to whom he also sent a February 14th letter detailing a slew of allegations he now has against the DOJ and FDA — from fraud and malfeasance to DOJ prejudice throughout the process.
In an email to Reset, the DOJ declined to comment on these allegations.
A tidal wave of support has kept Smith afloat in recent months. As of this writing, a Change.org petition had amassed 31,000 signatures in his favor and more than $98,000 had been donated to his cause through GoFundMe.com.
“I’m moved. I weep almost daily. I’m ever grateful,” he says. “I’m more hopeful now than ever that it’s not too late to make some change.”
As the trial date looms ever closer on the horizon, Smith has come to see the tense, drawn-out waiting period as a “journey into self discovery.”
“I think it’s awakened the activist in me,” he says, adding, “I believe that one person really can make a difference— so what would happen if my story inspired 10 others to make a difference, and so on?”
Even though the last several years have been a dark, stormy period for his family, Smith sees the glimmer of a bright silver lining in all of this.
“I would say it’s had a positive effect in the long run in that it’s waking people up to the corruption of a corporate-driven government,” Smith says. “Most everyone can see without looking too hard that this case is absurd. In that sense, its really exposing the FDA, the DOJ, and even the judiciary that keeps the whole machine running.”
Whatever happens, he feels this case is galvanizing an already momentous natural health movement. “In the broader sense,” he says, “this case has nothing to do with MMS and everything to do with standing up and taking back our rights and freedoms.”