Newshawk: Carey Ker
Pubdate: Fri, 15 Dec 2000
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2000 Southam Inc.
Address: 300 - 1450 Don Mills Road, Don Mills, Ontario M3B 3R5
Fax: (416) 442-2209
Author: Nate Hendley
Caption: Dominic Cramer, president of Toronto Hemp Company, has powders and drinks he says will cleanse the body of drug residue. Provincial plans to test welfare recipients may mean more customers.
DRUG MASKING KITS COULD APPEAL TO A NEW CLIENTELE BUT DO THEY
Inside the Toronto Hemp Company on Yonge Street, next to display cases
filled with rolling papers and water pipes, are products designed to help
people beat drug tests.
Dominic Cramer, the store's owner, says he grosses "a couple grand a month"
from these products and in five years they have never caused him legal
problems. His main consumers are truck drivers, who have to pass stringent
U.S. drug testing regulations if they want to cross the border.
But Mr. Cramer might soon be looking at a new clientele. Last month, the
province announced plans to test welfare recipients.
A young, outgoing entrepreneur, Mr. Cramer spreads a series of powders,
pills and drinks on top of a glass case and explains how these kits work.
First, they are meant to cleanse your body of drug residue. Then, they are
supposed to mask the drugs that could show up in urine screens. Mr.
Cramer's products come mainly from two U.S. companys: Spectrum and Detoxify.
For example, Spectrum's products include a 16 fluid ounce drink ( $30 ),
quick flush capsules ( $25 ), and the Tommy Chong ( of Cheech and Chong fame )
Home Test Kit ( $30 ). Detoxify, which has similar items, claims to have
served a million customers and offers a double-money back guarantee.
The Friendly Stranger on Queen Street West also sells anti-drug test items.
The store's main product is a carbohydrate-based drink called Test Pure
( $30 for 16 fluid ounce bottle ), which is supposed to "push your toxins
into your colon" so they won't be detected in your urine, says store owner
Like Mr. Cramer -- and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, for that
matter -- Mr. Ellins opposes workplace drug testing. "Drug testing is
unconstitutional in a big way. No one has the right to know what you do in
your spare time," he says.
Not surprisingly, this attitude is shared by the folks at Cannabis Culture,
a Canadian magazine with a circulation of 65,000.
Cannabis Culture contains an astonishing number of ads for the drug test
kits. The November/December issue has full-page items for The Whizzinator
2000 ( "an easy to conceal, easy to use urinating device with a very
realistic prosthetic penis that comes in four different colours" ) and
Detoxify Aqua Clean tablets ( "add water" ).
Alan Young, a law professor at Osgoode Hall and a longtime drug reform
activist, says selling anti-testing products carries little criminal risk.
"As far as I'm aware, there's no law that prohibits masking agents and
detox kits," he says.
For their part, the provincial Ministry of Community and Social Services
claims to be on top of drug-test trickery. Cheating is "an issue we'll
definitely be looking at during the consultation process," says spokesman
Government officials have been meeting with treatment professionals to
discuss the province's testing proposals. These consultations are to wrap
up by the end of the year, when the province will decide what kind of
drug-screening legislation to introduce.
And provincial officials may not have to worry for one main reason: Despite
the easy accessibility of anti-testing products, it's debatable how
effective they really are.
Scarborough's Funky Skunk hemp shop, for example, no longer sells anti-drug
test kits because of concerns about their reliability.
"A lot of people buy them, but don't use them properly," says owner
This might be because detox and masking products aren't terribly
user-friendly. People who use Test Pure, for example, have to abstain from
alcohol, vitamins, coffee and soft drinks for up to three days before
taking the drink. Then, they're supposed to gulp down all 16 fluid ounces
of the product in less than a minute, a tough go considering the stuff
tastes like cough syrup.
Dr. John Wells, who works for Mississagua's Maxxam Analytics laboratory,
one of the largest drug testing centres in Canada, says most of the methods
used to fool tests are based on the easily detectable principle of
"Fifty to 60% of all these so-called procedures, when you read the
fine-print, they're all about drinking water or other fluids," says Dr.
Wells. "The instructions tell you to take their product with four glasses
or water. It's the water that is supposed to fool the test, not the product
People selling anti-drug test kits deny that their products don't work. "I
have repeat customers," says Mr. Cramer.