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Md. Couple Runs Mobile Drug Testing Business

The Capital of Annapolis

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- Within their home office, Jill and Jim Kopernick have everything they need to learn about drugs.

Earlier this year, the Annapolis couple became the Maryland contractor for Mobile Drug Testing, an agency that provides door-to-door testing services. As a result, they get a steady supply of instant test kits that can detect the presence of marijuana, cocaine, opiates and other drugs.

They now have about 20 clients, which range from companies screening new hires to individuals testing in child custody
battles. Their clientele includes Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corp. and the Maryland Live! casino.

"There's such a need for it," said Jim Kopernick, who technically works for his wife. "Drugs and alcohol are a big problem on the rise."

The Kopernicks' venture comes as mandatory drug testing has increasingly become an issue across the country. Maryland law allows employers to require drug testing for job-related use. But in Colorado, lawmakers pushed for a bill that would require the testing for welfare recipients. The measure was later defeated. In Arizona, lawmakers are reviewing a law that would require the same of anyone seeking unemployment benefits.

The need for testing "kind of ebbs and flows with the economy," said Laura Shelton, executive director of the Drug and
Alcohol Testing Industry Association. "When the economy drops, a lot of businesses drop it because a lot of the testing is done pre-employment. When companies aren't hiring, that means less pre-employment testing being done."

The DATIA has 1,500 members around the country that are drug and alcohol service providers. Out of its 20 member providers in Maryland, three -- White Glove Drug & Alcohol Testing Inc., The Maritime Consortium Inc. and Capital MRO Inc. -- are based in Anne Arundel County.

Based in Salt Lake City, Mobile Drug Testing LLC was formed in 2001. Additional locations opened in 2004. Now, nearly 50 contractors around the country provide drug and alcohol urinalysis, hair follicle drug testing, saliva drug testing and DNA testing, among other services.

Jim Kopernick worked in the food and beverage industry for nearly 20 years. Because he occasionally drove for his company, he had to undergo drug testing. But he became frustrated about going to clinics and waiting three hours to begin the process.

When the Kopernicks learned about Mobile Drug Testing, they saw it as a way to leave the corporate world. They charge $30 for simple drug testing on up to $400 for DNA tests. They have three people who work underneath them as collection agents.

On assignments with individual clients, they go to the person's home, receive a cash payment and take down personal information. Then they secure the bathroom -- tape up the soap dispenser, seal the ceiling ventilation and place bluing tablets inside the toilet -- and have them provide a urine sample. Results can be given instantly.

When the test shows presence of drugs, most corporations require it to be sent to another lab for verification and to identify the substance.

"It's amazing what people want to tell you when they feel like you're all-knowing," Jill Kopernick said. "Usually we can
identify (the substance)."

The $500-million Maryland Live! casino is expected to open in June next to Arundel Mills mall. Officials there anticipated filling 1,500 jobs. New workers are required to undergo drug and alcohol testing prior to employment, along with random drug testing while working there. Mobile Drug Testing was selected to handle this because of the company's effort to partner with local women-owned businesses, said Lynn Norris, vice president of human resources.

At Anne Arundel Workforce Development, job seekers are trained in various readiness programs. Drug testing is not required, but it is recommended during training so that they'll know in advance if they can pass the test. The organization has called for Mobile Drug Testing to come to its orientation sites.

"It's been very positive," said Samantha Stallybrass, a green navigator with the agency. "We work with a very diverse
population. They can sometimes be all over the map. We need a lot of flexibility with people who work with it."

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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