On Monday I spent an interesting few hours in Lismore court. I supported a friend of mine who, after being saliva tested, was charged with driving a motor vehicle with illicit drugs in his blood. After testing positive for weed at a roadside testing, he had to go to the police station to take another test, which showed negative. Nevertheless this test was sent to Sydney for a ‘really sophisticated test’ as the magistrate put it, and guess what? That came out positive as well!
Now this is a miracle, a swindle or plainly a faulty test because my friend never – really never, and I would swear on that – consumes any weed. How it got into his saliva is still unknown to this day. Some people suggest that THC can easily be absorbed as a passive smoker, or by absorption through touching something that someone else with THC in their system has touched before.
The company who makes the saliva tests (Draeger) prides itself on their website to get drug detection done meticulously. These are their words to a little cartoon on their site: ‘We are finding the needle in the haystack! Detecting THC to 0.000 000 05 gram.’
Does it make sense to drag people with miniscule amounts away from their jobs, into court and clogging up local courts with this? I don’t think so and the magistrate did not either.
In the courtroom I witnessed six other saliva drug-testing cases before my friend’s case. Every time the case was dismissed using ‘section 10’. This can happen if you plead guilty, it’s your first drug offence and if you have a reasonably clean driving record.
Any person who got a test with a false result faces a dilemma though. If they plead not guilty it is very unpredictable what is going to happen next. If they plead guilty they will be let off.
So my friend pleaded guilty for an offence that he did not commit – case dismissed! The only trouble is, if he gets pulled up within the next five years, gets tested and comes out positive, the first offence will be counted also.
It can happen to anyone to be tested, and there is no absolutely sure way to protect yourself from testing positive because the saliva tests are not reliable and consistent in their results. You could test positive first, then negative and then positive again, like my friend and some of the others I saw in court today.
Such a waste of resources, time and energy! The first test costs at least $40, and I don’t know how much the others cost. Police are wasting their time for useless roadside tests and the court system is clogged up with petty stuff. And as an ‘offender’ if you don’t get a reasonable magistrate, you’ll end up losing your driving license for a while, which has huge implications in a place with very limited public transport. I know people who lost their job and even their home. Refraining from pot smoking does not necessarily keep you out of trouble either, as with my friend.
Another weird fact is that the offence was ‘illicit drugs in his blood’ – yet no blood was taken!
It has been reported that some people who are chemically sensitive showed allergic reactions after taking tests and would not do so again, unless they were told exactly what is in the tests. The highway police have no fact sheet about the tests and do not know the active ingredients.
So be careful brothers and sisters and mentally prepare yourselves for the occasion.
Mary Sweet, Billinudgel