by Hunter Dublin | October 3, 2022
After detecting false positives for THC in the protocols and stopping cannabis blood tests late last month, Michigan State Police (MSP) have not responded or provided any further information. Following the report, Shanon Banner, manager of the MSP Public Affairs Section, issued a statement in which she announced that the organization was "immediately halting the processing of all THC blood samples" out of "abundance of caution." At the same time, it sought to "learn more" or "institute another validated method of testing to ensure accuracy."
After speaking with Geoffrey French, supervisor of the MSP Toxicology Unit, in an interview conducted by independent journalist Eric VanDussen, who confirmed that the department's testing for THC levels in blood samples was unreliable.
The MSP Forensic Science Division had been utilizing the flawed testing procedure for over 20 years, and the agency halted the testing on August 31.
When MLive contacted Banner last week for an update, she stated that the "August 31 statement is still the most recent information" the organization could provide.
According to the statement, MSP estimates that more than 3,000 cases may be affected by inaccurate THC blood tests. However, any drug tests that confused CBD with THC before March 28, 2019, are irrelevant because hemp was still illegal in Michigan at the time.
State police stated in the statement that "CBD, which structurally resembles THC, was prohibited in Michigan until March 28, 2019." However, since that time, Michigan law has made CBD lawful, which is said to have no psychotropic effects.
The Criminal Defense Lawyers of Michigan's president, Arthur J. Weiss, told MLive that he is "concerned about how this was implemented and the lack of transparency and information that's been provided to us."
Since we're worried about institutional bias and question if this is the kind of circumstance that supports that perception, many folks in the defense community have said for years that the lab should be an agency and a department outside of the Michigan state police.
Michael Nichols, a criminal defense lawyer, told MLive that he has been "bringing this to the awareness of judges all over the state" for years and that he doesn't think the state police crime lab only became aware of the issue last month. According to his theory, juries and judges have chosen to ignore the issue because they "want to make their criminal justice partners... pleased."