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Criminal Defense From A Former Prosecutor

Drug test identifies cotton candy as methamphetamine

Many police departments in California and around the country use roadside drug testing kits to determine whether or not items discovered by officers during stops or searches are illegal narcotics. These portable drug testing kits are inexpensive and easy to use, but they have been known to mistake benign substances like sugar and baking powder for methamphetamine or cocaine.

A recent case highlighting the limitations of roadside drug tests involves a woman from Georgia who spent three months behind bars for possessing a substance later identified by a laboratory as candy. The woman's problems began in 2016 on New Year's Eve when the car she was traveling in was pulled over by police in Monroe County for having dark tinted windows. During a search of the vehicle, officers noticed a plastic bag containing an unidentified blue substance. The woman told officers that the bag contained cotton candy, but she was arrested and charged with methamphetamine possession with the intent to distribute after a portable drug test identified it as meth.

The woman remained in jail for three months because she could not raise the $1 million she needed to post bail. She was only released after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation tested the substance in a crime lab and discovered that it was candy. The woman has since filed a lawsuit against the officers involved, the Monroe County Board of Commissioners and the company that manufactured the drug testing kit.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys will likely be aware of the controversy surrounding portable drug kits, and they may seek to have narcotics charges dismissed when the results produced by them are not supported by more reliable evidence. Attorneys may also argue for bail amounts to be lowered when individuals have been charged with drug crimes based solely on a questionable roadside chemical test.

Source: AOL, Georgia woman sues after drug test falsely labels her cotton candy as meth, Rachel Desantis, Nov. 25, 2018

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