Pubdate: Mon, 24 Jun 2002
Source: State, The (SC)
Copyright: 2002 The State
Author: Rick Brundrett


S.C. Supreme Court To Hear Arguments Involving Sale Of 'Adulterant' To Hide 
Use Of Marijuana

When a Richland County store ran an ad that read "Taking a drug test? Want 
to cleanse your system?" narcotics agents checked it out.

This week, South Carolina's highest court will hear arguments about whether 
the owner of Nicki's Novelty Store did anything wrong when his store sold a 
bottle of Zydot to an undercover agent in 1999.

A clerk at the Broad River Road store said it would hide the presence of 
marijuana in a drug test, court documents show.

Store owner Edward Rothschild III was convicted of possessing an 
"adulterant," a substance used to beat a drug or alcohol test. He was 
sentenced to nine months in prisonsuspended to five years' probation -- and 
fined $5,000.

The store has closed, but Rothschild is taking his beef about the law to 
the S.C. Supreme Court.

His lawyer will argue Tuesday that the "adulterant" law violates commercial 
speech rights. Rothschild couldn't be reached for comment last week. His 
lawyer, Jennifer Kinsley of Cincinnati, declined comment.

Justices will issue a ruling later.

The court ruled last year that the state could ban urine sales intended to 
defraud drug tests.

Efforts were unsuccessful to reach Assistant S.C. Attorney General Melody 
Brown, who will present the state's case Tuesday.

During Rothschild's June 2000 trial, State Law Enforcement Division agent 
Joseph West said he paid $48 for a bottle of Zydot at Nicki's. West said a 
clerk told him, "No one had come back and complained from (Zydot's) use, as 
far as failing the drug test."

A Web site that sells Zydot claims that one hour after drinking it, "your 
urine may be pure and clean. This will last four to five hours." The 
product is advertised as "100 percent drug free."

Rothschild said in court papers that he was indicted "for the words on the 
label, not the product itself, which the parties agree is lawful." The 
First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives him the right to advertise 
Zydot, he said.

"No less protection is afforded commercial speech merely because it relates 
to a so-called 'vice' activity, or to other unpopular subjects," 
Rothschild's legal brief argues.

The state law banning "adulterants" is so broad that a grocer who promotes 
bottled water as a "system cleanser and detoxifier" could be prosecuted, 
Rothschild said in his written arguments.

In court papers, the state said Rothschild was prosecuted "for his 
possession of products which are intended to defeat a drug test," not in an 
effort to restrict "his right to free speech."
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