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Friday, December 07, 2001

The whole darn pissing match

I try not to be vulgar (use "gutter talk" as my daddy would say), but that's exactly what it is going to be...One Big Pissing Match.

Beginning next Wednesday, a man I'll call Ken will be the first man ever to stand trial in South Carolina for selling his own urine.

His operation works a bit like this: He urinates, puts his urine in a small, clear plastic bag (think: blood donation bag), attaches a tube and a heating element to the product and sells it on the 'net.

He's been doing it for several years now. It's only been illegal since 1999. He cites his right to freedom of expression.

Some time in early 1999, the State Law Enforcement Division (also known as SLED) began an investigation (some would say at the behest of a state senator who penned the bill that would make urine sales illegal). During that investigation, agents bought several bags of urine from Ken and his employees. Shortly thereafter, they put the cuffs on him. If Lenny Briscoe had made the arrest, I would have to guess he would've muttered something like "Urine trouble, buddy."

If you haven't already guessed, the state contends Ken sells his urine with the intent to help people defraud drug screens. The state thinks that's a bad idea.

Ken contends his urine kits are novelty items...art, if you will, to protest the entire urinalysis industry. He says he has a First Amendment right to pee in a bag and sell it.

[Editors note: In the middle of writing this, I was offered some deep fried turkey. I'm eating it now. If you've never had it, you really should start thinking about moving to the South].

There are a lot of legal issues involved in the case which would probably bore you. There are constitutionality questions, issues of selective prosecution (Ken is the only man who has ever been arrested for doing such a thing), as well as the concept of selective legislation (the idea that the General Assembly passed this law simply to put Ken out of business).

Here's the law...

SECTION 16-13-470. Defrauding drug and alcohol screening tests; penalty.

(A) It is unlawful for a person to:

(1) sell, give away, distribute, or market urine in this State or transport urine into this State with the intent of using the urine to defraud a drug or alcohol screening test;

(2) attempt to foil or defeat a drug or alcohol screening test by the substitution or spiking of a sample or the advertisement of a sample substitution or other spiking device or measure;

(3) adulterate a urine or other bodily fluid sample with the intent to defraud a drug or alcohol screening test;

(4) possess adulterants which are intended to be used to adulterate a urine or other bodily fluid sample for the purpose of defrauding a drug or alcohol screening test; or

(5) sell adulterants which are intended to be used to adulterate a urine or other bodily fluid sample for the purpose of defrauding a drug or alcohol screening test.

Intent is presumed if a heating element or any other device used to thwart a drug-screening test accompanies the sale, giving, distribution, or marketing of urine or if instructions which provide a method for thwarting a drug-screening test accompany the sale, giving, distribution, or marketing of urine.

(B) A person who violates a provision of subsection (A):

(1) for a first offense, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and

(2) for a second or subsequent offense, is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than ten thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.


That's the law he's up against. It's going to be one hullava trial. I sat in court for an hour today listening to the prosecutor, judge, and defense attorney yell at each other.

The defense contends (among other arguments) that the law is much too vague and could apply to many stores. He brought up Wal-Mart and K-Mart today. Turns out you can buy deer urine and hand warmers in the same building. He also talked outside of court about something called the Whiz-ard. I'm not sure I want to see that little magician. He said he'd show it to me on Wednesday.

I have to imagine things are going to get really confusing during the proceedings. At some point one attorney will look at the other during a fight over an ink pen or something. Does that pen belong to the defense team or prosecution team?

Someone will ask...with a perfect southern accent..."Is that urine or our'n?"

Ken has been on Geraldo, MSNBC, Maury, Politically Incorrect and all the rest of those shows. If you'd like to check out Ken's web site (where he has links to his appearances)...you can find it here.

Oh... on another embarrassing South Carolina note...

Our voters recently made it legal for the Lottery Barons to move into the state. I have no opinion on the games whatsoever, but I find this a little a funny:

Apparently some young capitalist thought he would buy up the best sounding web domain for the lottery...SCLOTTERY.COM...and try to sell it to the state. But the state wasn't buying. So now...this is what people see when they mistakenly log on to the wrong site.

He better watch out...I'm sure they can find some way to make the urine law apply to him.

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