Originally published January 7 2015
Does your right to biological privacy end when you flush? Police want to test your waste without warrant
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) In a naked attempt to shred the Constitution's privacy and due process provisions, drug warriors are pursuing a new avenue of prosecution: Testing your sewage waste to see if you've been naughty or nice when it comes to using a drug Uncle Sam has deemed illegal.
What's worse, there are actually some who are serving as cheerleaders for all of this.
According to a news release from the American Chemical Society:
"The war on drugs could get a boost with a new method that analyzes sewage to track levels of illicit drug use in local communities in real time. The new study, a first-of-its-kind in the U.S., was published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology and could help law enforcement identify new drug hot spots and monitor whether anti-drug measures are working." [emphasis added]
Study authors Kurunthachalam Kannan and Bikram Subedi said that, today, most techniques used to estimate drug use in the country are based on surveys, criminal statistics and drug seizures by law enforcement agencies. However, they say that a lot of illicit drug use is occurring that otherwise is not being measured.
So, to compensate for that dearth of statistical evidence, the study authors advocate testing wastewater -- sewage -- for evidence of drug use in certain population areas.
Can police simply test your waste without a warrant?"Like a lot of other compounds from pharmaceuticals and personal care products to pesticides, illegal drugs and their metabolic byproducts also persist in sewage," the ACS news release said. "In Europe, a number of studies have been done to see how well wastewater treatment plants are removing illicit drugs from sludge before treated water is released into the environment. But until now, no study in the U.S. had looked at this, likely leading to underestimates of abuse."
To gather data for their study -- which was funded in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- Kannan and Subedi examined illegal drug levels at two wastewater treatment plants in Albany, New York. The scientists reported finding cocaine in 93 percent of all untreated samples.
In addition, they reported finding levels of byproducts from opioids and hallucinogenic drugs as well, concluding that wastewater treatment facilities were not removing all illicit drugs before releasing the water back into the environment, which would then eventually wind up in some drinking water.
"But, the researchers suggest, tracking drugs in wastewater could help policymakers and law enforcement understand patterns of abuse and better fight it," said the ACS press release.
Justin Gardner of The Free Thought Project says such law enforcement monitoring is inherently unjust.
"The thought of authorities slogging through the sludge may be comical, but it represents another example of big brother using our money to monitor our behavior," he wrote at TheFreeThoughtProject.com. "Drug consumption is a non-violent act upon oneself. The drug trade is made violent in a black market under government prohibition."
Many libertarians feel the same; they believe that drug enforcement and prohibition merely enables government to exert power and influence in a realm of human activity that does not inherently affect other human beings -- only those engaging in the activity.
That may be true to an extent, but there are larger issues here as well -- constitutional issues. Will police or federal agencies be required to obtain a search warrant before testing sewage? Or will this monitoring be permitted in the name of public safety?
Does a person have a right to biological privacy, and if so, does that right to biological privacy exist only in the moments before you flush your toilet? How about if you go to the bathroom outside?
All good questions, to which there are -- so far -- no answers.
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