Drug Test Field Kits Used by Texas Law Enforcement May Be Yielding False Positives and Wrongful Convictions

iStock_000014481539_ExtraSmall.jpgA recent report titled “False Positives Equal False Justice” shows that the majority of marijuana field test kits used by law enforcement officers in the U.S. produce unacceptably high rates of false positives. This report, jointly released by former FBI chief scientist and narcotics officer Dr. Frederic Whitehurst and writer and forensic drug expert John Kelly, shows findings from a two-year joint legal and scientific investigation. While focusing on the most widely-used testing kit, the NIK NarcoPouch 908/Duquenois-Levine Reagent test kit, the study found that both the NIK and a majority of other testing kit brands used by law enforcement as a basis for arrest and prosecution had high rates of faulty results. This is of particular concern because the company that produces the kit has written that: “The results of a single test may or may not yield a valid result…There is no existing chemical reagent test, adaptable to field use that will continually eliminate the occurrence of an occasional invalid test results. A complete forensic laboratory would be required to qualitatively identify an unknown suspect substance.”
The consequences of a false positive on a law enforcement or probation-related drug testing kit are dire. Lengthy jail sentences, felon status, a suspended drivers license, ineligibility for government loans and an undeserved social stigma are all severe consequences to citizens.
Across the country, Kelly’s report is being backed by law enforcement officials, business owners and, especially, the victims of faulty drug testing kits. One business owner who has seen the risks of false positives firsthand is David Bronner, president of the popular organic soap line Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. In 2007, the results of a NarcoPouch 928 field drug test were used to jail Don Bolles–drummer for the legendary punk-rock band the Germs–on charges of possession of the illegal drug GHB. Fortunately, Mr. Bolles fought back, contending that the alleged GHB was in fact nothing but Dr. Bronner’s castile soap. David Bronner and his company became involved, and both Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps and Mr. Bolles were exonerated shortly thereafter when a crime lab confirmed that the “GHB” was, in fact, soap.
Chocolate, natural soap, newspaper and other household items have all tested positive for marijuana and other drugs using law enforcement field drug test kits, yet these testing procedures continue to be used in arrests and prosecutions nationwide. It is imperative that law enforcement enact a moratorium on the use of faulty testing kits and create the necessary oversight and control of drug testing to protect our basic freedoms and civil liberties.

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Gilbert Garcia has been Passionately Pursuing Justice for over 30 years and founded The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm in 2008. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is a boutique law firm, specializing in Criminal Defense. Gilbert represents adults and juveniles accused of a crime and who have with a felony, misdemeanor or record cleaning case. Conveniently located on the courthouse square to serve Montgomery and Walker Counties. Gilbert became Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1989. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is located at 220 N. Thompson St., Suite 202, Conroe, TX 77301.  www.ggglawfirm.com.

Drug Related Charges may include: Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Dangerous Drug, Manufacturing a Dangerous Drug/Controlled Substance, Delivery or Intent to Deliver Marijuana/Dangerous Drug/Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and many other drug related charges.