We can now add sage to the list of substances that have turned out false positives on the field tests cops use when they think they’ve found marijuana. The list also includes chocolate chip cookies; deoderant; billiards chalk; Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap; patchouli, spearmint, and eucalyptus; and breath mints.
Why, it’s almost as if these field tests say whatever the cops want them to say. They’re like the drug-detecting dogs of . . . um . . . drug detection. Okay. So that metaphor doesn’t work.
This particular story begins with the poor lady out doing some birdwatching.
Sheriff’s Deputy Dominic Raimondi, 51, mistook Brown’s sage for marijuana, then searched her car and found more. His field kit said the sage — purchased at an airport gift shop in Albuquerque, N.M. — tested positive for marijuana.
He did not arrest her that day in March 2009, but sent the 50 grams of “contraband” to the crime lab for a more definitive test.
Assistant State Attorney Mark Horn ordered Brown’s arrest without having the sage tested, court records show.
Three months later, Raimondi showed up at the Massage Envy in Weston where Brown works and took her away in handcuffs.
“They arrested me in front of my customers, my boss, my co-workers,” Brown said. She later was subjected to a body cavity search, a strip search and an overnight stay in jail.
A month later, Brown’s attorney discovered that the sage had never been tested at the Broward Sheriff’s Office crime lab.
“When I found out they didn’t do a lab test, I was outraged,” said her Miami attorney, Bill Ullman. “I raised hell about that.”
On July 23, 2009, Ullman demanded that the sage be tested.
The lab test concluded that the dried sage was not marijuana at all. The criminal charges were dropped.
So the prosecutor swore in a statement that the woman was in possession of marijuana, despite the fact that the sage had never been tested in a lab. And they had three months to test it. This led to Brown’s wrongful arrest in front of customers and colleagues, a strip search, and her detention.
A judge then tossed Brown’s negligence and malicious prosecution lawsuit because of . . . you guessed it . . . absolute prosecutorial immunity.