This story is over 5 years old.

The 'Cocaine' This Student Was Jailed for Turned Out to Be Powdered Sugar

Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that these University of Miami officers don’t catch word of the bastions of depravity known as Pixy Stix.
Photo via Flickr user Steven Depolo

There are any number of dubious acts a prank-prone college student can commit that would leave them in some National Lampoon-level trouble. One could bring a portable copper still chock-full of prison gin into one's lecture hall. Or rule over a clandestine fight club with your unwilling suitemates. Or just blame that puppy mill you started freshman year on your unsuspecting RA.

Yet the holy grail of collegiate anti-institutional behavior, far and away? In this case, sugar.


READ: Who Wants to Do Chocolate Key Bumps?

That's what one Florida college student found out after being arrested and charged with felony possession of cocaine back in August. The cocaine in question, however, was nothing more than household sugar.

The whole incident started when Jonathan Harrington, a 21-year-old English major at the University of Miami, decided to get his Rick Ross on in the veritable City of M-I-Yayo by jokingly leaving out several rails of sugar, some aspirin, and a rolled up dollar bill during a dorm room check. University officials came across the scene when conducting a scheduled administrative search for any contraband or illicit substances—a search that is largely considered to be a joke among students, considering the university lets them know that it is happening beforehand.

Shortly after discovering the ill-conceived prank, university officials contacted the University of Miami Police, who arrested Harrington for felony cocaine possession and threatened expulsion. Police reports of the incident indicate that upon seeing the police officers, Harrington stated, "I guess you guys are here about the powdered-sugar prank!"

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


This is where things become a bit more complicated, because apparently the field kit conducted by local authorities on the "cocaine" actually ended up testing positive. The responding officers noticed the pills were indeed marked as aspirin, but didn't buy that the rest of the sugary prank was indeed a prank. Harrington spent the night and the following day in a holding cell, where he was given only ham sandwiches to eat.

Well, it looks like everyone's favorite Loiter Squad-wannabe is now a free man after court dockets confirm that Harrington was vindicated yesterday and that the felony charges have been dropped. Harrington's sister says that further testing revealed that the substance police had impounded was indeed simply sugar. When Miami New Times asked Harrington to comment, he declined and stated that "Only the criminal case has been resolved."

And just in case you were under the impression that Harrington's case isn't emblematic of widespread issues pertaining to field-testing drugs, guess again. Miami New Times points out that back in 2009, another Floridian was arrested after the breath mints in his car ended up testing positive for crack. One birdwatcher was arrested in 2011 when sage she awesomely had in her backpack tested positive for marijuana. A few years ago, NYPD officers inexplicably confused one 25-year-old Coney Island resident's Jolly Ranchers with crystal meth. And, hell, just as recently as February, a Minnesota resident was arrested when his vitamin supplement powder ended up testing positive for amphetamines.

READ: Hunter S. Thompson Tried to Get Paid in Cocaine at My Tequila Bar

Back in Miami, Harrington says the incident has been an eye-opener and that he is considering a new career path: "This whole affair makes me consider law."

In any event, we wish him all the best on any future yayo-related exploits. Let's just keep our fingers crossed that these University of Miami officers don't catch word of the bastion of depravity known as Pixy Stix.