(As reported 3/10/99)
A South Carolina man who sells urine over the Internet says his sales have gone up since a state lawmaker introduced a bill aimed at putting him out of business.
Log onto Kenneth Curtis' Web site, and for $69 plus shipping, people concerned about employee drug tests can order 5 ounces of Curtis' urine, screened by a national laboratory, to pass off as their own.
He says many of his customers of Privacy Protection Services are not illegal drug users -- they don't want their employers to find out other things, such as whether they're on anti-depressants or are pregnant or have the AIDS virus.
But South Carolina State Sen. David Thomas wants to make it illegal to sell or give away urine for the purpose of defrauding a drug test. The Republican senator says his legislation would protect private businesses that are exercising their legal right to test employees for drugs.
The Senate passed the bill on Wednesday and sent it to the House.
Since news of the bill got out, sales have surged, Curtis said. In the last few months, he said his Web site has received 17,000 hits. Although he would not give details about his profits, he said he earns a decent living.
Curtis contends the bill is a threat to people who want to keep their bodily fluids -- and all the information that can be gleaned from them -- to themselves.
"I am a patriot," Curtis said Tuesday. "I'm an American and I understand history. I don't condone drug use, but I am suspicious of attempts to pry into my private life."
Under the bill proposed by Thomas, the first offense would be a misdemeanor. Subsequent offenses would be felonies punishable by a fine of less than $10,000 and up to five years in jail. People who buy urine will not be penalized.
Curtis said that in the past three years, he has received orders from every state and from around the world.
Curtis promises his customers urine that's been prescreened by a national lab and contained in a tiny pouch with intravenous tubing. The apparatus can be attached to the body and, if operated properly, purchasers can use it without being detected by someone watching them take the test, Curtis said. A few heat packets come with the kit, so the user can warm the sample to body temperature.
Curtis said he is discouraged the bill hasn't received any significant opposition besides his own. It passed unanimously in the Senate.
If the bill passes in the House, Curtis said he will try to get a court to grant an injunction to stop it from being enforced.