Cheating on the Test
COMPANY'S PRODUCTS ARE MEANT TO FRUSTRATE DRUG TESTING
Government Takes Notice
A secretive Cincinnati company says its finding a growing market for
its products that are designed to beat drug tests. Spectrum Labs --
which provides only a post office box for its location -- claims to
have helped thousands of people beat drug tests since it went into
business 12 years ago.
The company's products have gotten the attention of the U.S.
government. Spectrum's signature product called UrineLuck was cited by
name when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed
changing federal drug-testing rules because of widespread use of
products designed to allow drug users to beat the tests. UrineLuck is
an additive meant to be mixed with a urine sample to neutralize any
trace of illicit drugs. The firm also sells shampoo designed to fix
hair samples, and a urine substitute, among other products.
"They are clearly visible on the Internet and in drug-culture
magazines and publications," said Dr. Donna Bush, drug-testing team
leader for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration, part of HHS.
The UrineLuck product is "one of the big reasons why we are moving
ahead with alternatives to the urine tests," said Bush, a forensic
Although Spectrum's products were formulated to deceive tests designed
to detect traces of marijuana in the system, the products also are
effective when used by people who use other illegal -- or tightly
regulated -- drugs, such as cocaine, opiates and amphetamines, said
Tony Wilson, Spectrum's director of communications.
They are meant to counter the growing use of drug testing before
hiring and during employment.
Sixty-two percent of all companies conduct drug testing, a figure that
skyrockets to 100 percent for those in the transportation industry and
some government agencies, said Rebecca Hastings of the Society for
Human Resource Management in Alexandria, Va.
Spectrum is owned and was founded by J. Matthew Stephens, who grew up
in Mason. He defends his products as fighting privacy intrusion by the
federal government and corporations.
Although he declines to provide specifics about Spectrum's financial
results, Stephens said sales have grown explosively every year and
revenue is now "in the millions."
Ninety-nine percent of his sales are to people who use "plain old
pot," not users of more dangerous drugs, he said.
He said he began to develop his product line while h
e was studying
chemistry at Ohio State University in the late '80s.
When a buddy who was facing a job interview and drug test asked him to
come up with something to "help him out," Stephens obliged.
"It worked for him and he told two friends who told two friends and I
had friends asking for friends and someone said you ought to go into
business," he said. Stephens opened the doors for business in
Cincinnati in September, 1992.
Stephens and Wilson contend that drug tests represent unwarranted
invasions of privacy by the government or employers.
"Whatever happened to the right to privacy and the rights against
unlawful search and seizure?" said Wilson.
The company also agues that some drug tests are inaccurate, providing
false positives for the presence of illegal substances.
"You've got to have some regulations for public safety, but not when
you're talking about invading the privacy of your home," Stephens said.
Spectrum's products include:
"Urine Luck," a chemical additive that comes in two small vials. When added
to a urine sample, the product is supposed to destroy any "unwanted toxins"
in the sample.
"Quick Fix" is a synthetic urine that can be clandestinely substituted for
the actual sample. It comes with a temperature strip and microwave heating
instructions so it can approximate body temperature.
"Absolute De-Tox Carbo Drink" was formulated to trap toxins in fat cells so
that they're not released during a drug test.
The products are sold on the Internet (www.urineluck.com) and at
retailers including Hemptations stores in Clifton and O'Bryonville and
The Cupboard in Clifton.
Bush said that proposed new regulations will improve the accuracy of
drug testing by allowing the government to use sweat, saliva and hair
samples to conduct drug tests. A separate set of new regulations are
designed to improve the accuracy of urine tests.
About 400,000 federal employees could be affected, including those
with security clearances, those who carry firearms or deal with public
safety or national security, and presidential appointees.
In many cases, private industry follows the government's lead on drug
testing, meaning that the new regulations may usher in new rules in
the private sector, Bush said.
Hastings compared users of Spectrum's products to those who cheat on
"Anyone who would use such a product could be regarded as a person of
questionable character, just as those who cheat on tests and term
papers are labeled as cheaters," she said. "And they may place
themselves and others in danger by engaging in such practices."
Stephens said the company's primary source of criticism is "the people
who are doing the drug testing."
"What's the best way to pass a drug test?" Wilson said. "We recommend
that you don't do drugs."