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Your wallet is harboring drug criminals

So a recent study found that up to 90% of U.S. currency (especially in large cities) contains cocaine residue.

A team from University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth has found that bills from the US and Canada are highly likely to have trace amounts of cocaine, showing for the first time a growing prevalence in the abuse of the drug.

Um, no. That would be what we call an unsupported conclusion. All we know from this is that a lot of currency contains trace amounts of cocaine and probably that there is a lot of cocaine used in the U.S. It doesn’t tell us about growing abuse or even growing use. It could have to do with how it’s used, increased accuracy of detection technology, or other factors.

As one commenter at Slashdot humorously conjectured when seeing that only 12% of Japan’s currency had traces of the drug…

Everyone in Japan has Hello Kitty coke spoons.

Yes, lots of factors could be involved.

The true importance of this data comes from Jeralyn at TalkLeft:

It’s time to resurrect those motions to suppress based on cocaine traces found on currency. […]

The Time article goes on to give this incorrect advice:

Yet, don’t worry, you’re not likely to face any legal trouble or fail any company drug tests as a result: the amounts of cocaine found on bills ranged from a minuscule .006 micrograms to 1,240 micrograms—an amount comparable in weight to about 50 grains of sand, according to the researchers.

It should have added the caveat: Unless you’re charged with a cocaine offense or the Government is seeking to forfeit your property. In that case, you can bet the Government will try to introduce evidence that money in your pocket contained cocaine residue, particularly if a dog sniffed it out.

These studies have been around since the 80’s, and despite some courts finding there’s no relevance, prosecutors said they’ll continue to try and make the connection.

This study should provide some assistance to defense attorneys, and maybe eventually reduce the oddly superhuman legal power of the drug-sniffing dog.

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11 comments to Your wallet is harboring drug criminals

  • No doubt big factor: The rise in plastic currency use.

  • Mike R

    The first thing that comes to my mind when I read this is: If the only indication we see of some aparently heavy and widespread cocain use is some traces on some dollar bills, how big of a problem is it really?

    Maybe we should throw a few billion more at this cocaine “problem” so that we can finally rid our country of those…. uh…. well, ..umm.. powdery dollar bills?

  • ezrydn

    One thing not mentioned is that the coke is transfered bill to bill while being run through money counting machines. A comtaminated bill goes through, leaving residue on the machine, which transfers that trace evidence to the other bills that move through the machine.

    So, contaminated money (bills) mean absolutely nothing about a single individual.

  • Cliff

    “So, contaminated money (bills) mean absolutely nothing about a single individual.”

    But that won’t stop Johnny or Judy Jack Boot from using that as ‘probable cause’ to detain and harrass you. Just doin’ his / her job, you betcha.

  • Buc

    Maybe that’s why the government is so set on creating inflation and constantly pumping more money into the supply. Have a few more dollars without coke on it…

  • DdC

    30 years ago when I was still living in Fla they said every $100 bill had trace amounts of coke. Stashing the cash in the same place as processing. Or rolling it up into a straw. Outside of Wall St, who snorts coke? Disco died and coke should have gone with it.

  • truthtechnician

    A prosecutor would not be able to use this evidence in court. No judge would allow that as admissible evidence, it would be laughable. It would open the door for all sorts of ridiculous evidence like DMT in your blood or cocaine in the chewing gum stuck to your shoe for example.

  • Hope

    Cocaine salted money also comes in handy for police as it did a few years ago when an older couple found what they thought was a discarded or lost duffle bag with something like a hundred and eighteen thousand dollars cash and no id in it. They dutifully took it to the local police and they were to be able to claim it by law in so many months if no one claimed it. Seems the police kept it anyway because a drug dog sniffed drugs on it so it was probably drug money and should go to the police.

  • Cliff

    Finally, our fiat currency may really be worth something.

  • here

    ive heard a variation of this for many years now. i always thought it was an urban legend