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 microgramsâ€”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.