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Michigan on verge of banning fake pee used to beat drug tests

Legislation to ban the sale of synthetic urine is headed to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. (Shutterstock photo)

LANSING — Michigan would ban the sale of synthetic urine under legislation heading to the desk of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for potential signature. 

The Michigan House on Thursday approved a Senate bill that supporters say would make it harder for workers or prospective hires to beat employer drug tests by criminalizing sales of fake pee and other drug masking products.

Related: Michigan pot sales skyrocket to all time high as prices keep dropping

"There is no legitimate use for these products other than to cheat an alcohol or drug screening test, and therefore they should not be available in the marketplace," sponsoring Sen. Curtis Vanderwall, R-Ludington, said in earlier committee testimony. 

Masking products designed to adulterate or dilute testing samples can lead to inconclusive results, forcing retests and ultimately increasing costs for employers, including the Michigan Department of Corrections, Vanderwall added. 

The legislation passed the House in a 96-10 vote with wide bipartisan support. The Senate, which had approved an initial version of the bill last year, signed off on technical changes early Friday in a 36-1 vote, sending the bill to Whitmer.

The passage comes four years after Michigan voters chose to legalize recreational marijuana. The 2018 initiative made clear employers could still establish their own drug enforcement policies, including hiring screens. 

Several major employers, including automakers, still screen new hires for marijuana.

The new legislation would make it a misdemeanor to sell or supply fake urine or other products designed to beat a test for any drug, not just marijuana. A violation would be punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. 

At least 18 states have similar laws, including California and Delaware, which both adopted similar statutes in 2019.

Vanderwall's legislation is backed by the Michigan Manufacturers Association and Quest Diagnostics, which performs employer drug tests for companies around the state and country. 

Over the past 10 years, the number of "invalid specimens" tested by Quest has doubled nationwide, senior consultant Barry Sample told lawmakers in written testimony submitted earlier this year to the House Health Policy Committee.

As testing protocols have improved, the "anti-drug testing industry responded with a continual evolution and sophistication" of masking products, he said. 

"It is a continual 'cat and mouse' game," Sample wrote.

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