July 6, 2008
Criminal Defense Attorneys Take Note: False Positive Field Tests For Illegal Drugs
Posted by Alan Childress
False positives for illegal GHB, similar to Rohypnol, are being reported from everyday shampoos and soaps, even some made by Palmolive and J&J. It may have started from the 2007 arrest -- and nearly four awful days in county jail -- of Germs punk rock drummer Don Bolles for possession of GHB "found" in his peppermint Dr. Bronner's soap, in his van on the way to an AA meeting. (Profiling?) GHB was detected by the ODV brand reagent sold for the field, specifically the NarcoPouch 928. (Yes, the real product name, not an SNL skit.) A thorough report on the initial story is in L.A. CityBeat here. See also USA Today. And Orange County Weekly added, the next week, that "the OC district attorney’s office announced that further tests revealed there was, in fact, no GHB in the soap, and all charges against Bolles were dropped."
Follow-up in media stories now repeated on such blogs as Legal Juice today, and Stop The Drug War last year, add this footnote: this was not an isolated case of a false positive, particularly for the reagent in ODV's NarcoPouch. Later testing showed positive results in other, more mundane home supplies. Though oddly not in any Barry White album. The Bronner soap president started to look further (as quoted in Punk Rocker's Jailing Raises Questions About Field Drug Tests):
Bronner's campaign isn't ending with Bolles' exoneration. At least four other soaps have resulted in false positives in the Narcopouch 928 GHB test kit, including Neutrogena and Tom's of Maine. "We are testing more products and videotaping those tests. Products from Johnson & Johnson and Palmolive are testing positive, so we'll go to the Cosmetics, Toiletries and Fragrances Association, show them these products are testing positive, and then work through them to explore options for addressing the situation with these field drug test kits. Ideally, we could force a product recall, but we need at least a disclaimer if this product is going to continue to be sold. If they don't know soap tests positive, what else don't they know?"
The other odd part of the CityBeat story is that the initial communication to the Bronner soap company was in a phone message misunderstood by another company exec , who heard it as THC, not GHB, and sort of dismissed it as business as usual. See why, after the fold.
That's because, in their product, "in fact the drug [THC] is present in such a minute amount it is undetectable and hemp products have been declared legal to sell in the U.S. under a ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court. That case was also brought by Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps." The USA Today story quotes the company president as saying "police field tests of Magic Soap have occasionally indicated THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, because the soap includes hemp oil." Good to know. Bronner helped pay Bolles' legal fees.
Anyway, Bolles was a pretty good sport about this all, and laughed that a Germ got busted for soap. But it is, seriously, a cautionary tale for field tests of all kinds, and the notorious judicial and jury over-faith in them. Criminal defense attorneys should be armed to reply, and prosecutors should not have blind faith.
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OK, I used to be a devotee of Dr. Bronner's products, especially the soap, if only because back in the days when I was nostalgic for hippiedom while living in Isla Vista (where they burned down the Bank of America; opened up a 'free' clinic, community credit union for poor folks, and a recycling center before most had heard of such things; had several well-known tipis housing principled hippies; practically invented the bike trailer; and boasted a semi-vegetarian restaurant that closed its doors if the local waves ever reached a few feet so the owner and chef could go surfing [yes, the sign on the door read 'Gone Surfing'], it doubled as a soap and a shampoo (as toilet paper was equally adept for wiping my arse and my nose: not the same piece mind you; I didn't say I *was* a hippie, only that I identified with same). What is more, instead of reading the the LA Times on the toilet, which I couldn't afford to have delivered in those days, I could read the fine-print label on the plastic soap bottle, which appeared to be inspired by the Talmud (well, that's an exaggeration, let's say the Mishnah, owing to its comprehensive coverage of myriad subjects; like Dr. Bronner's: 'Magic All-One'). Why Dr. Bronner's? Our local food co-op stocked and plugged it, and it was cheap (working as a dishwasher at a retirement home afforded me few luxuries).
And me and my roommates, poor as we were but ever wary of abandoning our middle class moorings in the San Fernando Valley (and actively seeking contact with the fairer sex, which at that time and place didn't mind bare feet or the occasional missed shower, but insisted on a fresh tasting tongue), brushed our teeth several times a day with, you guessed it, Tom's of Maine toothpaste! How blessed we were not to have had drug testing back then! And yet it would not have mattered, because we would have been off the charts: a few beers, a few tokes, mushrooms fresh from an intimate incubation period alongside cow manure, etc., etc. Not unlike Drs. Hoffman, Leary, Alpert (now Ram Dass), and Weil (now a medical marketing marvel), and earlier, Aldous Huxley, we saw ourselves as experimental test subjects, as there weren't any IRBs or IECs back then, or warning labels for that matter.
Posted by: Patrick S. O'Donnell | Jul 6, 2008 5:48:56 AM
is there a field test for shrooms which can be used in a pileminary hearing for trial?
Posted by: adrian benham | Dec 25, 2008 10:46:05 PM
Dear Fellow Citizens,
Countless innocent people experience the negative effects of false positive law enforcement drug tests, and false positive urine tests everyday at the boarders, airports, cities, and rural areas throughout the United States everyday.
The NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield is experiencing this right now, and innocent couple from Canada had their 8 month old child taken from them; TSA employees at Detroit Metro Airport have stated off the record that this occurs at least two to three times a day.
So why is a product that is so faulty such as the law enforcement field tests, and the urine tests being protected so viciously? The only conclusion that some can come up with is the drug companies with their investments in the White House through lobbyists, and that is why these tests that cause such hardship for people nation wide are still in use, and why there have been no real successful law sutes against the companies that produce, manufacture, and market these tests as almost certain in their accuracy. It is time for a change, WHO will assist in making the necessary change that these multi-billion dollar businesses seem unwilling to do?
A story of false positives that directly infringed on civil religious freedoms to a Native American man is below.
Another link for law enforcement false positives is:
Along with the field drug tests that law enforcement uses that will test false positive for many legal substances, and causes innocent people so much trouble and inconvenience, the list below is just SOME of the LEGAL substances that can cause a false positive with drug urine testing. Look at the website
Substances that cause false positives [not just for amphetamines]
Amoxicillin - False positives for cocaine
Anti-anxiety pills - Many will test positive for Benzodiazepines
Antibiotics - False positives on Heroin Tests
Asthma medications (Marax, Bronkaid tablets, Primatine Tablets)
Cough medicines - See if any ingredients are on this list
Cough suppressants with Dextromethorphan (DXM)Cylert
Diazepam (generic name for valium)
Diazepam False positives for PCP
Dristan Nasal Spray
Elavil - False positives for opiates for up to three days
Ephedra (Ma Haung)
Ephedrine based compounds
Fioricet and derivatives
Ibuprofen - False positives for Marijuana
Lettuce - Both Prickly and Blue
Lortab - an opioid analgesic
Menstrual cramp medications like Midol and Trendar
Most prescription pain medications
Nasal decongestants - False positives for Amphetamines
Nyquil Nighttime Cold Medicine - False positives for Methadone up to 2 days
OTC diet aids with phenylpropanolamine (Dexatrim, Accutrim)
Over-the-counter nasal sprays (Vicks inhaler, Afrin)
Prescription sleeping pills
Primatene-M containing perylamine
Quinine water - False positives for opiates
Robitussin Cold and Flu
Tylenol with codeine
Vicks Formula 44M containing Dextromethorphan
Vicks Nasal Spray
[note the mention of vitamin B2]
Posted by: SimpleTruth | Jul 27, 2009 8:55:26 PM
While Dexedrine was once used for a variety of purposes in the mid to late 1900s, it has since been classified as a controlled substance that is used mostly to treat patients with ADD or similar disorders. Those who suffer from Dexedrine addiction are just as likely to be obtaining the drug through illegal channels to satisfy a Dexedrine addiction as they are to be getting it through a real prescription.
Posted by: Dexedrine Addiction | May 24, 2011 10:56:18 PM