False Positives Abound in Drug Field Tests
Researchers warned the media this week that the field tests used by cops to determine whether drugs are present in substances are unreliable and produce too many false positives.
The National Press Club in Washington, DC took on the aspect of a chemistry lab for a short while Tuesday afternoon as scientists and researchers sponsored by the Marijuana Policy Project gave a startling demonstration of false positive drug test results obtained using some of the most widely used field testing kits employed by law enforcement to detect the presence of marijuana and other drugs.
As a lab-coated and rubber glove wearing researcher from the South Carolina Center for Biotechnology dumped a sample of oregano into a field test kit, Mintwood Media's Adam Eidinger produced a positive test result for cocaine with another kit simply by exposing it to the atmosphere. "This is just air," Eidinger said, opening up a test and waving it as the reagent turned orange, indicating a positive result.
"While testing the specificity of the KN Reagent test kits with 42 non-marijuana substances, I observed that 70% of these tests rendered a false positive," said Dr. Omar Bagasra, director of the Center for Biotechnology, who conducted the experiments.
Here's the report, False Positives, False Justice (pdf).
This two-year scientific/legal investigation reveals a drug testing regime of fraudulent forensics used by police, prosecutors, and judges which abrogates every American’s Constitutional rights. The report is a call to action by former FBI chief scientist and narcotics officer, Dr. Frederic Whitehurst and writer and forensic drug expert, John Kelly, for lawmakers to enact a moratorium on the use of these tests and to create the necessary oversight and control of drug testing to protect the public’s basic freedoms.
While the report does not examine blood or urine drug tests, it does examine in depth lab tests as well as field tests used by police, jails, schools, border guards, parents and others to determine if a suspected substance is in fact an illegal drug.
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