An American man has been convicted of selling fake urine samples to people who needed to pass drug tests. David Neal of Middletown, Ohio had been selling the synthetic urine through his herbal tea store. The product is by drug users to get around mandatory drug testing. Neal is facing up to six years in prison and a fine up to $130,000.
Many companies in the United States require drug testing of new employees, testing after a work-related injury or accident, and other testing throughout employment. A positive drug test means disciplinary action, usually dismissal.
Urine tests may also be required of people on probation or going through other types of court proceedings. A positive test in these circumstances may result in legal consequences that could include jail time.
The product in question was called “Magnum Unisex Synthetic Urine.” The packaging promises the user will “Never Fail a Urine Drug Test.” Neal was also convicted of conspiring to defraud the US government by selling misbranded drugs.
The specific charge was “obstructing and interfering with the lawful governmental functions of SAMHSA in overseeing, monitoring and establishing scientific and technical guidelines for federal workplace drug testing programs.”
SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse, and Mental Health Services Administration, is a division of the US Dept. of Health and Human Services. SAMHSA is responsible for conducting drug testing on certain professionals, including airline pilots, train engineers, truck drivers and certain government employees. In these professions, drug use can endanger lives. While recreational use of certain drugs is becoming more common and tolerated, working while under the influence is not.
Agents had been investigating Neal for some time prior to the sting operations in 2010 and 2012 in which the agents purchased the product.
It is estimated that over 17 million Americans are employed by companies that require drug testing, and many websites suggest a number of ways for drug users to get around drug tests.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2013 found that nearly one out of every ten people working full time in the United States had used illegal drugs in the previous year. Part time employees are even more likely to use drugs, around 12.5% had admitted to using. The rate of drug use among those who are unemployed was twice that of those who work full time, about 18%. Some states have begun requiring drug tests in order to qualify for government assistance. This policy is controversial.
It makes little sense for professionals to use drugs when working for an employer with zero-tolerance policies and random testing. Substance abuse and addiction are serious mental health issues that should be addressed. A person found to be using illegal substances needs mental help rather than punishment. In many cases, the only way to determine whether someone has been using drugs is to have them submit to a drug test.
Photo: Image courtesy of Steven Depolo on Flickr