- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 12, 2007

The folks at Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps are on a crusade to prevent law-enforcement officials from using a drug test field kit that identifies natural soap products as a date-rape drug.

Leading the charge for the 50-year-old soap company is Dan Bolles, drummer for the punk-rock band the Germs, who was arrested for possession of the soap after a traffic stop last month in California.

“That was a fun thing to drop: ‘I’m in here for carrying soap,’ ” Mr. Bolles said.

David Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, said he was shocked to learn his product tested positive for GHB, or gamma hydroxybutyric acid, which causes drowsiness. Mr. Bronner bought 100 of the widely used NarcoPouch drug detection kits to test his and other natural soap products, including Tom’s and Neutrogena — and all tested positive as pure GHB, he said.

“This raises a disturbing issue of protocol on products that cops use to deprive citizens of their liberties if soap is causing a false positive,” Mr. Bronner said. “It’s crazy. It’s a punk rock soap opera.”

Dr. Bronner’s wants Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to stop using the NarcoPouch field kit at border checks.

A CBP official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the agency does not maintain statistics on false positives but said it is “not a common occurrence or something we deal with often.”

However, the official acknowledged that “there have been some instances of false positives when testing soap products.”

Michael Fox, spokesman for Armor Holdings Inc., which manufactures the test kit, did not return calls for comment.

Frederick Whitehurst, who worked for the FBI’s crime lab on narcotics investigations for 16 years, said “it does not surprise me at all” that soaps are testing falsely as positive.

“The chance for something like this to happen is quite high,” Mr. Whitehurst said. All field tests are “presumptive,” meaning it’s reasonable to move forward with an investigation, but not put people in jail.

The CBP official said the agency uses the narcotic field test kits for presumptive testing only. If the test shows a positive result, it is submitted to the Drug Enforcement Administration for further testing.

A spokesman for Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps who contacted The Washington Times said the manufacturer is hoping the maker of the drug-testing kits will pull the product off the shelves.

“It’s a lousy drug test but a really good soap test,” said Adam Eidinger, the soap company’s spokesman.

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