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Researchers say fingerprints can be tested for cocaine use

People in California who are charged with offenses involving cocaine may soon have their fingerprints tested rather than their saliva, blood or urine. A new technique for drug testing was recently developed by researchers in the Netherlands and Great Britain and described in the scientific journal Analyst.

According to the lead author of the study, a person's fingerprints can be tested for cocaine use before drug charges are issued. Fingerprints can test positive for cocaine use because the body naturally excretes trace amounts of methylecgonine and benzoylecgonine while it is metabolizing cocaine. These chemical indicators of cocaine use can be detected in fingerprint residue. Researchers say that the drug testing technique, which is called mass spectrometry, will not show a positive result for a person who has merely touched cocaine but not ingested it.

The lead author of the study said that the new drug testing method would be more hygienic and less invasive than traditional methods. He also pointed out that the fingerprint test would simultaneously detect cocaine use and confirm the identity of the testing subject. Researchers are hoping that their discovery will lead to the creation of a portable drug testing method that can soon be used by law enforcement agencies.

Even established drug testing methods that have been used by law enforcement agencies for a long time have known problems. A person who has been accused of taking cocaine or another drug may want to meet with a criminal defense attorney about disputing the legitimacy of the test that was administered. If no drugs were actually found, an attorney may be able to argue that a positive drug test is not enough evidence to convict the defendant of a possession charge.

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