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“Man Jailed Three Months for Breath Mint Possession
Radley Balko | August 19, 2009, 12:56pm
It’s a bit odd how often narco field testing kits turn back false positives. In the past, we’ve seen chocolate chip cookies, deodorant, billiards chalk, and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap come back positive, all causing undeserved, firsthand familiarity with the criminal justice system for the owners of the innocuous substances.
Looks like we can now add breath mints to the list.
A man is suing the Kissimmee Police Department for an arrest over mints. When officers pulled Donald May over for an expired tag, they thought the mints he was chewing were crack and arrested him.
May told Eyewitness News they wouldn’t let him out of jail for three months until tests proved the so-called drugs were candy…
May was pulled over for an expired tag on his car. When the officer walked up to him, he noticed something white in May’s mouth. May said it was breath mints, but the officer thought it was crack cocaine.
“He took them out of my mouth and put them in a baggy and locked me up [for] possession of cocaine and tampering with evidence,” May explained.The officer claimed he field-tested the evidence and it tested positive for drugs.
The officer said he saw May buying drugs while he was stopped at an intersection. He also stated in his report May waived his Miranda rights and voluntarily admitted to buying drugs.
May said that never happened.”My client never admitted he purchased crack cocaine. Why would he say that?” attorney Adam Sudbury said.
May was thrown in jail and was unable to bond out for three months. He didn’t get out until he received a letter from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the State Attorney’s Office that test results showed no drugs were found.
“While I was sitting in jail I lost my apartment. I lost everything,” he said.
While May was in jail, the police department also auctioned off his car.
Last March, the Marijuana Policy Project announced the results of some lab testing they’d hired an expert to conduct on some of the more commonly used field tests, and found that patchouli, spearmint, and eucalyptus all tested positive for marijuana on one test kid, while an incredible 33 of 42 innocuous substances tested on another came back positive, including vanilla, anise, chicory, and peppermint.