A Queensland, Australia, man has only just been released from prison after serving four months for possession of crystal methamphetamine, or crystal meth — after police finally got around to realizing that the substance was actually Epsom salt (named after Epsom, Surrey).
During the four months served by the unlucky salt carrier, authorities were reportedly in the process of conducting forensic tests, according to The Independent. We’re not scientists, but four months seems like an incredibly lengthy amount of time to confirm the presence of a naturally occurring mineral compound, magnesium and sulfate.
It’s not the same thing as table salt (sodium chloride), but Epsom salt is believed to help aid in the regulation of electrolytes and the prevention of blood clots, among several other applications. It is also used in agriculture to help seeds germinate and increase chlorophyll production.
Queensland Health’s Forensic and Scientific Services now faces serious criticism over its history of delays regarding forensic testing, which led to this unfortunate error.