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Proposal would criminalize faking pee tests, ban synthetic urine

Special to the Legal News

Published: January 15, 2020

A mainstay of so-called head shops and pipe stores, synthetic urine is marketed to consumers who need to cheat a urine test.
The fake substance resembles human urine, containing the appropriate balance of water and minerals, to ensure an optimal pH level free of drugs or other substances that otherwise would result in a failed test.
A Bowling Green lawmaker wants to prohibit the manufacture, sale or possession of synthetic urine in an effort to improve public safety.
Sen. Theresa Gavarone, a Republican, has proposed Senate Bill 156 to create the offense of "defrauding an alcohol, drug or urine screening test," generally is a second-degree misdemeanor, but a first-degree misdemeanor for any subsequent offense.
"Currently, synthetic urine is easily accessible," Gavarone said in testimony before a senate committee. "A quick Google search shows the sheer (number) of brands and locations where you can purchase the product.
"If you need to pass a drug test, there is no shortage of stores you can visit to acquire synthetic urine."
The bill doesn't include penalties for drug use. The lawmaker believes an outright ban, however, presents opportunities to increase public safety and incentivize drug abusers to seek treatment.
"The first reality we must deal with is the fact that people who use drugs and work in trucking, construction, manufacturing or any other field that requires the use of heavy machinery, are more likely to hurt someone else or themselves," she said. "Each of those industries requires attention to detail, critical thinking and strong communication - skills that are severely impaired by drug use.
"Unfortunately, a study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that workers in those industries suffer from some of the highest rates of alcohol and substance abuse among all professions."
Fake urine allows substance abusers to continue their drug use and threaten public safety, Gavarone added.
The state's chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Dave Yost, has offered his support of the bill.
"By criminalizing this offense, Ohio is creating another strong incentive for job seekers and others to get clean and stay clean," Yost said last month during testimony before senators. "Eighteen other states already prohibit the use of synthetic urine, including the neighboring states of Indiana, Michigan and West Virginia.
"With the passage of SB 156, those who decide to use drugs will no longer be able to game the system without consequences."
Yost requested Gavarone add an exemption to the bill to allow for the use of such substances for bona fide law enforcement purposes.
"Undercover law enforcement officers may sometimes use these substances within the scope of their duties," he said.
The bill also enjoys the support of the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce.
SB 156 had not been scheduled subsequent hearing at time of publication.
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