Field Drug-Testing Kits Often Unreliable, Experts Contend


Civil libertarians, public defenders, and some narcotics experts complain that unreliable field drug-test kits are being used more often than in the past as the basis to arrest innocent people on illegal drug charges, reports USA Today. The inexpensive test kits are used by virtually every police department and by federal agents, including Customs officers at the borders. The kits test suspicious materials. A positive result generally leads to an arrest and court date, pending more sophisticated tests done after the sample is sent to a lab.

“The tests have no validity,” says ex-FBI narcotics investigator Frederick Whitehurst. As more organic products come on the market, “the potential for civil rights violations when these presumptive tests are out there is phenomenal.” Although police have been using the field test kits for decades, “there’s no regulation, no oversight that these drug tests perform in any way,” says Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps President David Bronner, whose products have tested positive for GHB. With the growth of organic and natural foods and products, experts say arrests may increase.


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