Wisconsin just made possession of masking agents illegal, punishable with fines of up to $500 and jail stays of up to 30 days. Delivering or manufacturing a masking agent carries a harsher penalty -- up to $1,000 in fines and 90 days in jail. And advertising masking agents can bring an offender up to $500 in fines and 30 days in jail.
Here's the rub. The Republican-sponsored law's definition of "masking agents" is so incredibly broad that it can be invoked to harass anyone holding a bottle of water. A masking agent is, according to the State of Wisconsin, "any substance or device that is intended for use to defraud, circumvent, interfere with, or provide a substitute for a bodily fluid in conjunction with a lawfully administered drug test."
Well, let's see. Drinking a lot of water to dilute urine is a fairly common way people try to beat drug tests. And diuretics are very common masking agents. Pity the poor woman carrying an over-the-counter PMS med in her purse or the guy taking a diuretic to help control his blood pressure. As for people carrying water or drinking water...will they have to justify themselves to police?
It will be interesting to see just who it is who will decide the intent of the people in possession of these dangerous items. Will people be considered guilty if they possess a diuretic on drug-testing days? Or will police decide what the intent is? And how will they decide?
Gretchen Schuldt is executive director of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative.
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