With Fake Urine Sales On The Rise, States Push To Take Legal Action

By Victoria Kim 04/12/18

“It made me think, ‘Who else is using this?’ It could be a bus driver, it could be an aircraft pilot... They’re endangering everybody.”

doctor testing fake urine
Photo via YouTube

Some state lawmakers are going after people who sell or use synthetic urine to cheat on drug tests. The product is becoming more prevalent not only in the context of the opioid epidemic or cannabis legalization; other drug use is on the rise as well.

As a result, states like Indiana and New Hampshire have passed legislation to ban synthetic urine as recently as last year. At least 18 states have similar laws prohibiting the sale or use of synthetic urine, or cheating on a drug test, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And this year, bills were introduced in Missouri and Mississippi.

Mississippi’s “Urine Trouble Act” died in the Senate after passing in the House, but proponents aren’t ready to give up. The proposed measure would punish people caught using synthetic urine with 6 months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

The incentive to cheat on a drug test is significant. Whether a person is tested by the criminal justice system, an employer, or a doctor, there’s a reason that synthetic urine isn’t at all difficult to find. It’s easily obtainable online, in smoke shops and convenience stores.

“If it’s your job or you’re going to probation or you’re going to lose your kids, a lot of those folks will do anything to pass a drug test,” said David Powell, executive director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council.

Because of these high stakes, many will go the cheating route. “People can basically use it to avoid consequence with their employers and probation officers. There’s just no other legitimate purpose for it,” Powell told the Washington Post.

The legislation passed in New Hampshire was spurred by a grieving mother, Judy Tilton, whose 21-year-old son died from a fentanyl overdose. While cleaning his room, she discovered a bottle of synthetic urine. “It just made me think and go, ‘Who else is using this?’ It could be a bus driver, it could be an aircraft pilot, a trucker driving down the road,” said Tilton. “They’re endangering everybody.”

Synthetic urine does pose a public safety risk when it comes to labor-intensive jobs like machine operators and truck drivers.

According to the Washington Post, synthetic urine has become a “hot seller” among truck drivers. And the executive director of the Mississippi Association of Self-Insurers, which lobbied in favor of the Urine Trouble Act, reported that the use of synthetic urine to cheat on a drug test is a growing concern for “more and more of their employees.”

The rising scrutiny of the use of synthetic urine coincides with the manufacturing sector’s difficulty in finding qualified candidates that are also able to pass a drug test.

Last year, the New York Times reported that in some cases, nearly half of applicants fail drug tests in the manufacturing sector.

“We are talking to employers every day, and they tell us they are having more and more trouble finding people who can pass a drug test,” said Edmond O’Neal of Northeast Indiana Works, a non-profit that provides education and skills training. “I’ve heard kids say pot isn’t a drug. It may not be, but pot will prevent you from getting a job.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr