Mother's Little Helper

  Mother's Little Helper

Posted by FoM on November 08, 2000 at 11:30:32 PT
By Brendan I. Koerner 
Source: Village Voice 

We'll never know who pawned that copy of Angela's Ashes at a New York bookstore, whether the person was male or female, minor or adult. But with one swipe of a new drug test across the paperback cover, we learned something infinitely more private: the previous owner likely endured the McCourt clan's Limerick woes with the aid of Marijuana. Drug Detector, which offers America's first over-the-counter tests for marijuana and cocaine residue, requires nary a strand of hair, drop of saliva, or jar of pee. 
Sold by American Bio Medica of Kinderhook, New York, the product promises to make drug testing a nonconfrontational pastime. Instead of begging a child to submit to an invasive sample-based test, parents can now covertly slip into their son's or daughter's room and instantly discover whether microscopic specks of herb or blow dot the desk, drawers, or pillowcases. "We feel the value of the service that is provided to consumers, especially parents, outweighs the privacy issue in most cases." "Teenagers don't tell their parents when they're using drugs," says Stan Cipkowski, the company's founder and CEO. "And most parents don't have the kind of relationship with their kid—or the balls—to simply go up to the kid and say, 'Here, pee in this cup. I'm going to test you right now.' " Since 1996, American Bio Medica's flagship product has been Rapid Drug Screen, a kind of dipstick urinalysis test popular with emergency rooms and drug-free workplace programs. But since it relies on human biological material, Rapid Drug Screen faces a lengthy FDA review before it can be marketed to retail customers. Fortunately for the company, a firm called Mistral Security, a specialist in explosives detection, had created a drug-residue test for which it had little use. American Bio Medica licensed the invention, which needed no federal approval, and began packaging it for drugstores and online shoppers. Kits have been available at: since June, and Cipkowski predicts that Drug Detector will begin appearing in major-chain pharmacies by the beginning of next year. A Drug Detector pack contains 10 matchbook-sized papers and a small, chemical-filled aerosol canister. Simply wipe the suspect surface with a collection paper, spray it, and wait for a color change. A positive result for marijuana is indicated by the rapid appearance of reddish brown dots; for the cocaine version, blue spots suggest that minute traces of nose candy are in evidence. At $34.95, or about $3.50 per test, Drug Detector is far cheaper than such laboratory staples as urinalysis ($10 to $12) or hair analysis ($60). The company also plans to sell an "industrial" version of the kit, containing papers and sprays for methamphetamines and opiates. Despite the low price, American Bio Medica claims that Drug Detector is as reliable as any law-enforcement diagnostic device—somewhere in the neighborhood of 98 percent accurate. False positives can occur when uncontrolled substances such as nutmeg or henna are present, but the company claims such instances are rare. In nonscientific field tests conducted by the Voice, the product was, indeed, able to detect the presence of Mary Jane residue on the freshly polished desk of one habitual blunt smoker, while giving an appropriately clean bill of health to the elevator doors at 10 Rockefeller Plaza. A copy of the Allman Brothers' eponymous 1973 album, recently purchased at a street fair, surprisingly tested negative for marijuana residue. At least one naughty patron of Chelsea hot spot Serena apparently used the men's room sink to powder his nose; the loo at nearby cop hangout Peter McManus was pristine. American Bio Medica is quick to point out that should a child's backpack, jacket, or computer keyboard test positive, the result should not be considered absolute proof of narcotics use. "You can determine at least if there have been illegal drugs in his immediate area," says Brittany Johnson, the company's national sales manager. "That doesn't mean this person has used drugs, just that they have been exposed. A voluntary follow-up with a Rapid Drug Screen allows you to determine if he's using." Civil libertarians, predictably, bristle at the concept of behind-the-back checkups. Louise Roback, director of the New York Civil Liberties Union's Capital Region chapter, vehemently objects to the test's inability to differentiate between contact and use. "If you're going to use that for a basis to terminate someone," she told the Albany Times Union in June, "it's a basis for concern." Though its Web site pitches Drug Detector for use in the workplace, the company emphasizes that the primary market is not businesses but parents. "We feel the value of the service that is provided to consumers, especially parents, outweighs the privacy issue in most cases," says Johnson. "Keep in mind that the parents who are going to use this product aren't trying to hurt their child or take away their rights. They are trying to gather the right information so they can open a dialogue with that child and get them the help they need so they can live to see adulthood." To that end, each Drug Detector kit includes a questions-and-answers brochure that provides contact information for Phoenix House and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, as well as the aphorism "Remember, you are not a bad parent." Rave habitués have also expressed reservations, bombarding the company's Web site with negative feedback. "Their opinion is that we're bleep bleeps, bleep bleeps," says Melissa Decker, investor relations manager. "They say, Why are we bothering a society that we don't even know about just so we can feel comfortable at night and we can go home to our nice houses and our nice dogs? Why don't we bother the crackheads on the corner that are shooting kids?" The company's response: "We thank them for their comments." Cipkowski acknowledges that misuse is possible, perhaps by "some supervisor who has a vendetta against an employee, or some parent who is overly paranoid." But he maintains that Drug Detector's lifesaving potential far outweighs any ethical sticking points. More importantly, with an estimated 15,000 teens trying drugs for the first time each day, a financial bonanza awaits. "We're here to make money for our shareholders, number one," says Cipkowski. "The fact that we're selling a product that we think is going to help in a parent-child relationship, that's number two." Note: New Test Lets Parents Check Johnny for Drug Use Behind His Back.Tell us what you think? Contact:  editor Source: Village Voice (NY)Author: Brendan I. KoernerPublished: November 8 - 14, 2000Copyright: 2000 VV Publishing CorporationContact: editor villagevoice.comAddress: 36 Cooper Square, New York, NY 10003Website: Drug Testing Archives:

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Comment #9 posted by mungojelly on November 08, 2000 at 20:27:50 PT:
this test is already useless
As we all know, a vast majority of dollar bills in Amerika have cocaine residue on them. Something could easily test positive with this test if someone touched it after shaking hands with a marijuana smoker. But you see, accuracy simply does not matter to the drug warriors. They are paranoid; they see everything even vaguely related to drugs as being identical. What really is the difference between shaking hands with a marijuana smoker, smoking marijuana, injecting heroin, and killing babies for fun? To them, not too much. 
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Comment #8 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on November 08, 2000 at 18:50:21 PT
  If this testing is so cheap and effective and passive, we can all buy some and test our local governmental offices!!
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on November 08, 2000 at 17:42:47 PT
Just one more thing
I think the strength of any society is only as good as the family foundation that it is built upon. When we erode and tear apart parents and children we are risking losing the very backbone of our strength as a nation I believe.
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Comment #6 posted by Kanabys on November 08, 2000 at 17:10:10 PT
I agree FoM, 
 you said: >>I find the behavior of doing something like this a great way to drive a wedge between parent and child.This is all too common in AmeriKa now and this kinda crap will only serve to make the problem worse. Just wait and see, things will get worse, not better as the antis would have us believe. 
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Comment #5 posted by dddd on November 08, 2000 at 17:06:51 PT
Ma and Pa and uncle sam
 I like the suggested mischeivous procedures for confounding,and mystifying strange parents,or figures of authority.My main concern is the fact that this type if insidious,homewrecking,snoop product,will probably be mass marketed. You will see TV commercials,by the same people who make ads for Paxil,and Gatorade.It will encourage the gestapo method of being a parent. If only they could come up with a user friendly test kit for finding residues of dishonest public officials,,and daily testing was mandatory..................................dddd
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Comment #4 posted by AOCP on November 08, 2000 at 14:25:13 PT:
Spread schwagg everywhere!
I encourage all folks that have access and the desire to get a bunch of MJ leaves or schwagg (stuff you wouldn't mind wasting), crushing it up, and getting one of those parmesan cheese or oregano shakers (the kind with the big holes in the lid). Then, shake the stuff where thou whilt. Esp. in mommy and daddy's room! That way, the test indicates nothing! Enjoy!
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on November 08, 2000 at 13:04:44 PT

It's really bad

I agree dddd,I never snooped around in my son's room. I always figured that was his sanctuary from us. I find the behavior of doing something like this a great way to drive a wedge between parent and child.
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Comment #2 posted by dddd on November 08, 2000 at 12:26:55 PT


This will be the latest grotesque fad of the drug war. It will soon be availiable at the local drug store/pharmacy,,Kmart....Next we will be sickened with disgusting ads and TV commercials. This will stir the cauldron of the witch hunt.You might as well just strip search your kid every day.The kids who are subjected to this shit,have lousy parents.If you cant trust your kid enough and you need to use such means to snoop,then it's probably time to take a good look in the mirror.....dddd
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Comment #1 posted by jammin on November 08, 2000 at 12:22:57 PT

Let them Smell THC

try diluted bongwater mixed perhaps with soap (kills smell somewhat). if this dried solution will give a positive for test, then use a small spraybottle filled with solution, and spray on surfaces people are likely to contact: door handles like they say, keyboards, mice, desktops, counter tops, etc. idea is to give positive whenever test is tried rendering it useless
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