How Accurate Are The Drug Test Kits That Law Enforcement Use To Prove A Substance Is Marijuana?

drug test kit narcopouch marijuana

(image via wikipedia)

I posted an article yesterday about the case of Robert and Addie Harte. The Hartes had their home SWAT raided after police determined that they were illegal growing marijuana in their home. That determination by law enforcement was based on just two things. The first is that Robert Harte was seen buying grow equipment from an indoor garden store (for growing tomatoes). The other was that when cops went through the family’s trash can, they found what they thought to be wet marijuana plant material.

The plant material was tested with a field drug test kit, which returned a positive result for marijuana. Those two factors alone were enough to result in a SWAT raid on the family’s home, and guns being pointed at Robert and his wife’s children. A much more accurate lab test on the plant material returned the following result, per KansasCity.Com:

They conducted a field test on the material, and it tested positive for marijuana, according to the lawsuit.

A lab test done 10 days after the raid and again four months later found that the leafy material was not marijuana.

“It does not look anything like marijuana leaves or stems,” the lab report said.

The Hartes filed a lawsuit, but unfortunately a federal judge ruled that the cops didn’t do anything wrong. That’s incredibly disheartening considering that it has been known since as far back as 2009 that the exact tests used in the Harte case return false positive results at a rate as high as 70%. It was actually probably known even farther back than that, but for sure in 2009 law enforcement knew the tests they were using often returned bogus results. Below is a press conference that was held in 2009. You will recognize the legendary cannabis activist Adam Eidinger in the video. Adam was the head of the successful 2014 Washington D.C. legalization campaign:

To answer the question posed in the title of this article, drug test kits used by law enforcement for field drug substance tests are not that accurate. They are so inaccurate that in no way, shape, or form should they be used against someone during the course of an investigation, and definitely shouldn’t be able to be admitted as evidence in a legal proceeding that would result in a person losing their freedom. Sadly, the drug test kits are still in use, and according to at least one federal judge, there’s nothing wrong with cops using them, even when it results in a harmful SWAT raid on an innocent family. If a cop wants the test to be positive, they will likely get the result that they want simply by testing and re-testing the substance until it comes back with the desired result.

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