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Byron Shire
February 25, 2021

Drug-test bungle ruins Xmas for Casino family man

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By Darren Coyne

Adam Smith says his Christmas has been ruined because of a drug test and bureaucratic bungling. (supplied)
Adam Smith says his Christmas has been ruined because of a drug test and bureaucratic bungling. (supplied)

A Casino family man has been suspended from work and can’t afford to buy Christmas presents for his children after testing positive, then negative, for cannabis during a roadside test in August.

Adam Smith, a disability support worker who lives on a rural property 22 kilometres from Casino, is a 38-year-old father of two children, with a clean driving record and no criminal history.

But all that changed on 2 August when he was pulled over for a random drug test while driving to work at 7.45am in the morning.

‘My first test was positive for cannabis and I was put under arrest and sent to the mobile drug van,’ Mr Smith said.

‘In the van I was tested again and questioned by police. The second test returned a negative result.

Echonetdaily has previously reported that around a third of positive roadside tests were then deemed negative once the apprehended person was re-tested in the drug-testing van.

Those results have prompted activists to question the reliability of the testing regime, while local magistrates have questioned the effectiveness of the regime because the tests do not indicate actual driving impairment.

In Mr Smith’s case, police told him that he was ok to drive away.

‘The police told me that I was not under any DUI charge and told me my sample would be sent to a lab in Sydney for further testing and I should hear something within eight weeks.

‘The police took my mobile number and said they would contact me if the final test was positive.

‘I was also given a pink piece of paper that clearly states the test was negative and in fine print says “A member of the NSW Police Force will advise you if the result of the analysis indicates the presence of a drug/s as defined under the Act”.

And while he thought the matter was behind him, sixteen weeks later he received a penalty notice in the mail informing him that he had been fined $461.

His lawyer contacted the court and was told that Mr Smith had been fined and suspended from driving for three months at a court hearing that he was unaware of.

‘Apparently I was supposed to go to court on 23 November 2015. I was unaware of this as I had not received any letters or phone calls from either the police or the court. I had missed the chance to defend myself,’ Mr Smith said.

‘Because I had no correspondence advising my licence was suspended, I had been driving around not knowing that I had a suspended licence.

‘If I had been involved in an accident during this time I would have been uninsured.’

Mr Smith said once he was informed that his licence was suspended, he contacted his work to advise that he would be unable to attend work due to the licence suspension.

The next day he received a letter from his work saying he had been suspended without pay for breaching his work contract.

Adding further confusion to the situation, on Tuesday this week Mr Smith contacted the Roads and Maritime Authority and was told that his licence was still valid and that his record was clean.

But on Wednesday he received a notice from the court advising him of his fine and licence suspension.

He must now wait until next Tuesday to go before the court to apply to have the conviction annulled.

Whether that happens or not, the damage has already been done.

‘I have lost thousands of dollars in lost income, I am forced to halt mortgage repayments and delay payment of other bills, my reputation at work has been tarnished, and am too scared to drive my car despite the RMS saying my licence is currently valid and I am ok to drive,’ he said.

‘I am stranded at home, 22kms from the nearest town and have been experiencing much anxiety and depression due to this situation.

‘I can’t afford to pay for Christmas presents for my children.’

Nimbin’s Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone said Mr Smith’s case was not isolated.

He said the Embassy received calls regularly from people being charged with having THC in their system, despite not having smoked or consumed cannabis for days, if at all.

The Hemp Embassy is organising a protest outside the Lismore Police Station for 21 December, and Mr Smith said he would be attending to share his experience.

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  1. stupid police should arrest the politicians for the crime against humanity of banning the most healing plant on earth…. that’s the problem… intellectually impaired police unquestioningly enforcing corrupt anti human legislation rather than arresting the war mongering criminals who populate the halls of government. Until politicians are named as the war mongering criminal scum that they are, the world will continue its downward spiral

  2. I encourage all people to refuse road side drug testing. I have printed out a copy of the Northern Star article where the Police admit that the tests do not confirm driver impairment.What exactly is going on in this country ? We are now presumed guilty till proven innocent. ‘Welcome to Australia … we’ll gotcha for something!’

  3. Thanks Echo for publicising this injustice. Nick started the Echo because the the Byron Newt (sic) would not publicise the 1980 drug bust police violence and criminal behaviour. I feel sure Nick is applauding the Echo’s involvement somewhere

  4. This man has a clear case against the police and should be recompensed for all his losses. The police should be willing to help him in order to avoid any bad reputation to themselves let alone to him.

  5. How appalling for Adam. He certainly deserves redress and to have his name cleared. “Mistakes” like this can dog a person for the rest of their lives (particularly working in the field that he does). How can someone be “taken to court” when they aren’t officially served with notice to attend?

  6. I feel truly sorry for this man and his family, this is disgusting. Times are dark at the moment and getting darker. We have reverted to a sad period similar to the 1960’s & 70’s where the persecution of hippies & conterculture using drug raids was the norm

  7. A friend who recently tested positive for low range PCA is in the same situation.
    No court attendance notice received, convicted, fined & disqualified without being invited to the trial, then, when she approached Service NSW to hand in her licence, they told her (2 weeks after the trial held in her absence), Service NSW told her her licence was still valid and had not been suspended…
    Seems all these drug tests that ignore impairment are creating a back log of paperwork @ a great deal of community confusion…
    Maybe we should shift to a system which tests for impairment, as opposed to this current joke, and maybe consider the large numbers of people being caught for cannabis use as indicative of societal expectation…

  8. Thanks to the Echo for this and similar articles, and other readers, & Michael Balderstone for good comments. Old friend Nickie Shand would be glad to see this, the Echo being a reflection of other serious police abuse long ago, and reaction.

    This is an outrageous & disgusting use of force by ignorant and bought off police & politicians for opposition profits at tax payer cost.

    They are using driving as an excuse to invade a persons space & rights without a search warrant based on nothing to do with any road infraction or impairment of any driver, for possibly using a plant that has many benefits & saves lives from suffering & death.
    An actual impairment test for anyone showing driving problems or infractions is all that should ever be done, especially for big pharma & alcohol drugs that do affect driving badly.

    The police, politicians, and bad misused law is whats criminal and it must be changed and stopped.

    This plant is not like alcohol at all, quite the opposite. Instead of shutting one’s body & mind down like alcohol, it opens that all up, and even USA automotive insurance companies have done research to show use of this plant actually improves driving, with better focus, attention & slowing down. Other research has shown the same.

    We need informed & not bought off police, politicians, and far better law to stop imposing damage for no actual reason but opposition profits.

    That may require a strong leader who demands better and changes to help rather than hurt people, such as Justin Trudeau in Canada, another Commonwealth country that is simply tossing out all law blocking use of this plant and replacing it with regulation & tax above ground Federally.

    Impairment testing where need is indicated happens there and elsewhere, but not here. Here in this Commonwealth country its still very backward and in fact Nazi Fascist on this subject, with no regard for any possible or actual driving impairment.
    Why are we so backward here with a head In the sand approach that only costs and hurts people for opposition profits?
    The current activity and prohibition on this plant must go asap, and there needs to be more attention to what does so much damage, that is, alcohol, tobacco & big pharma products, not this helpful plant.

    The current approach is completely useless and destructive for nothing to do with driving or fact.

    About time the police & politicians woke up and stopped being total idiots now earning very low respect.

    Does anyone in power in this country have the good sense of Justin Trudeau? so far it looks like not even close, thanks. We have damn fools in power here, and we can hope they go the way of Canadian Harper. Let the people speak and vote for better here too!


  9. What an absolute farce that anyone should have to go through this. Another example of political/judicial idiocy (just like using police to check train ‘tickets’ in Sydney). I really do wonder at times…..

  10. Thank you Echonetdaily for posting this article.

    This situation is mind blowing. Firstly I will say that I do not advocate drug driving, but at the same time, you can not use a system for “proof” that is full of holes.

    Considering nobody will guarantee that this test is 100% accurate (even the distributor, who emailed me back stating that these particular “lick sticks” are not 100% accurate, ESPECIALLY out of the lab, and that the police were fully aware of this as well)

    How can these false positives hold up in court, when there is not 100% proof of guilt?

    How can they hold up in court when there is a list of over 600 over the counter medications that can give false positives, things such as antihistamines, asthma sprays, Nurophen etc…

    And if this guy was supposedly impaired (which I dont’ believe for one minute he was) how can the police then let him drive off?

    So many holes in this argument.

    Echonetdaily can you please keep an eye on this threat on our human rights and keep reporting. Also please advise us of time and location and speakers for the rally on the 21st.

  11. We must band together to have the use, possession and growing of Marijuana decriminalised.
    What has happened to this man is an appalling example of a breach of civil liberties not to mention valuable resources.
    The time this faulty system wastes could be better spent dealing with real criminal issues. I don’t think I have ever heard of a traffic incident which was caused by anyone solely under the influence of Cannabis.
    This whole matter is nothing more than an example of revenue raising and bureaucratic bungling.
    Adam Smith needs to be compensated for what this has done to him and his family.

  12. HOPE HE GETS COMPENSATION BIG TIME… this is not the free country Australia has been known for, we are controlled, manipulated and spat out!

  13. The police should refuse to continuie with this horrible injustice. There is something wrong with someone if he or she continues to do something that is wrong and this is wrong


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