A field test for drugs returns a positive for cocaine. But the “cocaine” is really Tylenol PM. Another field test shows marijuana, but the “marijuana” is actually Hershey’s chocolate. Finally, when nothing is put into the field test kit, a positive result is still given.
A short video made by Marijuana Policy Project revealed these alarming results. Many other substances have tested positive as well, such as oregano, vanilla, ginger and lavender. It’s no wonder that many people are accused of drug crimes based on false drug tests. Arrests, convictions and jail time have resulted from possessing such “illegal” substances as soap, tea leaves, candy and sugar because these substances tested positive as illegal drugs. One study in Las Vegas revealed that 33 percent of positive field tests for cocaine over a three-year period were false.
Additionally, human error is very real in field drug tests. Those administering the tests could perform them incorrectly, misunderstand the meanings of the different colors, or misperceive the colors in the darkness of a nighttime road stop. Many police officers are unaware of the inaccuracy and unreliability of the tests they regularly administer; for them, it’s conclusive evidence. Even weather conditions can affect the results.
Finally, although hundreds of police departments around the country use and rely on these tests, there is no government agency regulating their manufacture and production.
Why this should worry you
Because you could be the next victim. Or maybe you already are.
These tests are widely used in Florida and across the United States. Although they are usually not admissible in court, the damage that can be done from an arrest based on a false drug test can be far reaching. Embarrassment, legal costs, lost wages, and temporary imprisonment are just the start. The majority of drug cases – upwards of 90 percent – are resolved by plea deals. For many, although innocent, this seems the best way out of a seemingly airtight case. But a felony conviction could lead to loss of housing, employment, and difficulty finding suitable work in the future. It follows you for the rest of your life.
Get help now
If you have been charged with a drug crime, you need legal help now. Contact attorney Andrew M. Coffey, P.A. Recently named a Florida Super Lawyer, he has been defending people in Florida against drug crimes for over a decade. Don’t try to navigate these waters on your own. The rest of your life is on the line.