The following article was recently posted in a Georgia newspaper. It is interesting that the only comments sought by the reporter were from a DUI Task Force cop. What the article and the cop fail to report is that, not only do crime labs in Georgia and across the nation have the inability to test for this substance in blood and urine, police have no training in what to look for when a driver is detained by police and they suspect the driver to be under the influence.
Field Sobriety “Tests” have been used to determine if a suspect is impaired by alcohol, yet the majority of peer review articles that have sought to determine if they are accurate have concluded that they are not. The Los Angeles Police Department (not scientists) developed a Drug Recognition “Expert” program that similarly is unscientific, yet police officers across the nation are being taught its methods, and citizens are being arrested and charged in every community.
There is no protocol, scientific or otherwise, for law enforcement to determine if a driver is under the influence of synthetic marijuana. None.
Yet law enforcement has begun making arrests in cases where they cannot determine what drug the person may have ingested (if at all), and if they have similar attributes to the unscientific protocol used to determine if a person is impaired by marijuana. DUI defense lawyers and ethical scientists are the only ones in our society who are raising the red flag to say STOP! Until the government has the ability to accurately and responsibly accuse a citizen of DUI synthetic marijuana, it is shameful to accuse a person of a crime where their evidence is unreliable, inaccurate, and merely guesswork. Our Constitution demands that the State prove every criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt. Where the government’s own witnesses have that doubt before an arrest is even made, no charges should be brought.
Spice has an effect on drivers that’s almost identical to marijuana, said Richmond County sheriff’s Sgt. Danny Whitehead, who is a supervisor on the department’s DUI task force.
The slowed reaction time and general lack of awareness make driving dangerous, but getting users off the street through court cases can be difficult because of a lack of proof, authorities said.
Spice is a chemical drug that is constantly evolving, Whitehead said. He said that every time one version becomes illegal, producers alter it slightly, making it legal again. The changes can make it difficult to test for the drug.
In February, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency extended a temporary order that makes five of the chemicals used to produce spice illegal through Aug. 29.
Currently, the GBI can test for some versions of spice and are expanding testing capabilities, Bankhead said.