Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Forensic Toxicology Can Debunk the Poppy Defense

When it comes to detecting substance abuse, urinalysis remains to be the tool of choice by forensic toxicologists. Recent improvements in drug tests may soon accurately separate positive cases of heroin use from false-positive ones, wherein individuals have only ingested poppy seeds and not taken an illegal drug. These false-positive cases have presented problems to authorities because of the possibility that drug users may only be using the “poppy seed defense” to their advantage.

The term relates to how people can test positive for heroin abuse simply by consuming pastries made using poppy seeds. Depending on the quantity of seeds consumed, a person may test positive even up to 60 hours after ingesting the food containing poppy seeds.

While there are some claims that poppy seed ingestion do not make false-positive results in hair tests, forensic specialists have doubts as to its accuracy. This is why urinalysis remains the top choice when it comes to detecting substance use.

Should subsequent studies regarding the use of effective markers for street heroin prove successful, forensic toxicologists will be able to provide an expert opinion regarding a person’s alleged heroin use based on the chemicals found on the urine sample. Such professionals can help a defense or plaintiff attorney with accurate medical assessments regarding the sobriety or condition of the individual in question.

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