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The junk science of green tongues

Oct 01, 2010 The junk science of green tongues

It seems that so called "drug recognition experts" are taught that a green coating under one’s tongue indicates recent marijuana use.

I surmise that if one examined the tongues of 100 random people, various colorations would be found under their tongues that have nothing to do with marijuana use.

In that regard, for my case awhile back with a green tongue, I wrote:

The Case of the Marijuana that Wasn’t

It is Thursday at 1:00 a.m., with barely a car in site. The police stop my client for not stopping at a flashing red light. The officer incorrectly concludes that the driver has been driving while intoxicated. My client agrees to a breath test, which proves the officer wrong. Not satisfied, and suspecting that drugs therefore are involved, the officer calls a so-called drug recognition expert (DRE) to the station. Arriving several hours later, the DRE concludes from the driver’s behavior and apparent green coating under his tongue that the driver is under the influence of marijuana. 

At trial, on charges of driving under the influence of drugs and a moving violation  I successfully argue my client’s innocence of driving under the influence of drugs. I focus on the prosecutor’s burden to prove our client guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and proceed to point to the reasonable doubt galore, including the absence of any marijuana leaves, the smell of any marijuana, and any admission of the use or presence of marijuana. I argue that the DRE has insufficient qualifications and is using junk science. I win against the charge of driving under the influence of drugs.

A recent discussion on a criminal defense listerv focused on this green tongue junk science, including these links:

– Here is an article about an arrest relating to the finding of a green tongue.

TalkLeft talked about the green tongue junk science in 2003.

My Lexis search of "’green tongue’ and marijuana" returned the following four results in the state and federal courts, which I will be reviewing:

Warning: Negative treatment is indicated.
1. PEOPLE v. SUDI PEBBLES TRIPPET,잸089490/A089491, COURT OF APPEAL OF CALIFORNIA, FIRST APPELLATE DISTRICT, DIVISION FIVE,2001 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 290, December 31, 2001, Filed ,    NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS. CALIFORNIA RULES OF COURT, RULE 977(a), PROHIBITS COURTS AND PARTIES FROM CITING OR RELYING ON OPINIONS NOT CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION OR ORDERED PUBLISHED, EXCEPT AS SPECIFIED BY RULE 977(B). THIS OPINION HAS NOT BEEN CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION OR ORDERED PUBLISHED FOR PURPOSES OF RULE 977. CORE TERMS: marijuana, reimburse, tongue, driving, jury instructions, posttrial, condition of probation, conflict of interest, defense counsel, smoked marijuana …

Positive treatment is indicated.
2. State v. Chism, Case No. 20030412-CA , COURT OF APPEALS OF UTAH,2005 UT App 41; 107 P.3d 706; 518 Utah Adv. Rep. 38; 2005 Utah App. LEXIS 43, February 3, 2005, Filed OVERVIEW: Drug conviction was reversed because with no continuing reasonable suspicion, the officer’s detention of defendant to further investigate the validity of his identification, and the resulting arrest and search, were all unlawful.CORE TERMS: identification, detention, tobacco, reasonable suspicion, suspicion, driver license, license, driver, registration, warrants check …

Positive treatment is indicated.
3. State v. Hechtle, Case No. 20020543-CA , COURT OF APPEALS OF UTAH,2004 UT App 96; 89 P.3d 185; 496 Utah Adv. Rep. 23; 2004 Utah App. LEXIS 30, April 1, 2004, Filed OVERVIEW: In defendant’s appeal of denial of motion to suppress evidence, judgment was reversed; totality of circumstances articulated by trooper did not support conclusion that defendant’s arrest was supported by probable cause.CORE TERMS: trooper, arrest, probable cause, marijuana, driving, controlled substance, frisk, suspicion, training, tongue …

Citing Refs. With Analysis Available.
4. State v. Wheeler, No. 24397-1-II,잺OURT OF APPEALS OF WASHINGTON, DIVISION TWO,2000 Wash. App. LEXIS 779,May 19, 2000, Filed ,   RULES OF THE WASHINGTON COURT OF APPEALS MAY LIMIT CITATION TO UNPUBLISHED OPINIONS. PLEASE REFER TO THE WASHINGTON RULES OF COURT. OVERVIEW: Officer’s observation that driver of car, in which defendant was passenger, had a green tongue and both occupants’ admission of past marijuana use, without more, were not well-founded reasons for suspecting criminal activity.CORE TERMS: driver’s, marijuana, tongue, usage, occupant, drinking, reasonable suspicion, criminal activity, cocaine, sobriety tests …

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