State Rep. Nate Tate, R-St. Clair, has garnered support from prosecutors and other groups for his bill banning synthetic human urine.
Now, Tate will broaden the bill language as it awaits a committee hearing.
“I’m changing the bill to ban the sale of synthetic human urine altogether,” Tate said. “And the sale of human urine except for lawful business purposes.”
Eric Dobelmann of Gateway Drug Testing in Union says they average four or five people attempting to use synthetic urine each month.
“Sometimes we have a lot and there may be some months we don’t have any,” Dobelmann said. “We see it used most for pre-employment drug tests.”
Dobelmann said instant tests, which are commonly conducted at his offices give a simple positive or negative to the presence of drugs.
The synthetic urine has the same chemical makeup as the natural substance, which people are also caught attempting to use.
The main way people are caught is the temperature is not within the accepted range.
“The urine could come from anyone or anywhere,” Dobelmann said. “They usually have all kinds of excuses and never say where they got it.”
He added he was surprised to hear there are about 300 stores in Franklin County where these types of products can be purchased.
“I’m in favor of banning it,” Dobelmann said. “It’s costing companies money to have these drug tests.”
In addition to the all-out ban of the test-cheating products, Tate’s bill would amend state statutes by adding a section relating to the offense of falsifying a drug test, with penalty provisions.
The bill language states a person commits the offense of falsifying a drug test if the person knowingly or intentionally distributes, offers for sale, sells, delivers, or finances the delivery of an adulterant or synthetic urine with the intent to defraud or assist an individual in defrauding an alcohol, drug, or urine screening test.
It also classifies falsifying a drug test as a class B misdemeanor for first-time offenders and it would be a class A misdemeanor for those with a prior conviction.
Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Bob Parks says he is fully in favor of banning the substances and imposing penalties on those attempting to use them.
If the bill passes, the crime of falsifying a drug test would be equivalent to being arrested for DWI and carry the same penalties.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Parks said. “There is no use for these products other than faking a drug test and there are gobs of them on the market.”
Parks said adding additional charges to those already doing court-ordered drug testing would make penalties even harsher and would help private companies as well.
“Employees usually know when the drug testing is coming,” Parks said. “Now if they get caught with these items they will not only lose their jobs but would have a criminal charge as well.”
With fortified support behind the bill, Tate said he will be contacting House Speaker Todd Richardson’s office about which committee the bill may be referred to and when it might get on the calendar.
“I’ll send a letter to the speaker, talk to the committee chairman to ask for a hearing and start lining up witnesses,” Tate said. “It’s a small step, but anything we can do to stop this epidemic.”
Tate added the bill would most likely be heard by the Crime Prevention and Public Safety committee and he hopes to get a hearing in the next two weeks.