Florida Student Cleared After Tests Confirm He Used Powdered Sugar In Practical Joke, Not Cocaine

A 21-year-old English major at the University of Miami no longer faces felony drug possession charges after tests confirmed that the powder he used to play a practical joke was sugar, not cocaine.

Jonathan Harrington left lines of powdered sugar on a coffee table and the kitchen counter in his dorm room ahead of an inspection on Aug. 30, the Miami New Times reported. He also left aspirin pills and a rolled-up dollar bill.

But when university staff contacted the police, things started to get serious. The results of a drug field test indicated the powdery substance was cocaine.

“It was indeed powdered sugar — 23.7 grams of the finest you can buy at Publix. I know the amount from the police report,” Harrington told the Miami New Times. “I doubt they’d believe me. To them it is more plausible that I left $1,500 worth of cocaine strewn around my apartment.”

Harrington was arrested, taken to jail and charged with felony cocaine possession.

Court documents released on Sept. 29 confirmed the substance was, in fact, powdered sugar, and the charge was dropped.

Had Harrington been convicted of one count of cocaine possession, he would have faced up to five years in jail and a fine of $5,000. He also would have been suspended from the University of Miami, where he is due to graduate from next year.

It remains unclear whether civil proceedings will take place. “Only the criminal case has been resolved,” Harrington said.

But the English major is reportedly rethinking his future career.

“This whole affair makes me consider law,” he said.

Harrington’s case offers yet another example of how wrong drug field tests used by law enforcement can be.

In February, a Minnesota man was arrested when the test detected amphetamines in his vitamin powder. In 2013, a 25-year-old man from Coney Island was detained by police because his Jolly Rancher candies tested positive for methamphetamine.

Sources: Miami New Times, (2) / Photo credit: Miami New Times


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