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New study acknowledges false positives in drug testing

Someone in Pennsylvania confronted with losing parental rights because of a drug test may want to insist on a second chance. A study released by the Institute of Forensic Medicine indicated that hair tests, which have been considered highly accurate, can produce false positives for marijuana use.

Hair drug tests analyze the follicle for metabolic evidence of illicit substances. The researchers determined, however, that a person who has not used marijuana could be labeled a drug user because the hair can test positive simply from contact with second-hand smoke or the hands or sweat of users. With cannabis users estimated at 125 to 227 million people globally, contact with a user is not a remote possibility.

An examination of data published by Quest Diagnostics, an international testing laboratory, revealed that in 2014 over 210,000 hair tests, over 800,000 saliva tests and 6.6 million urine tests were processed by that company for U.S. employers. Within that sample, researchers estimated that at least 210,000 false positives could have been reported. An accusation of drug use based on a false positive could ruin the life of a worker or parent, said a managing partner from 4front Advisors.

A person whose parental rights could be in jeopardy due to a failed drug test might turn to a family law attorney for advice. With legal representation, a person could learn how to effectively document the ability to provide physical and emotional care for his or her children. Negotiations with the other parent could be initiated by the attorney, who might attempt to gain the visitation or custody that the client desires. Furthermore, a drug test result could also be challenged by an attorney, who could ask a family court judge not to base an important life decision on one lab test or the testimony of another person.

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