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Drug Chemistry Methodologies


Information for Customers Requiring Controlled Substance Analysis

The primary function of the section is the analysis of drugs, including controlled substances, pharmaceuticals and clandestine laboratory samples. Forensic chemists in the section analyze evidence items and conclusively identify a controlled substance or perform sufficient analysis to determine that no controlled substances are present.

Controlled substances are designated by the legislature of the State of Ohio in the Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3719. A controlled substances is placed into a level or schedule based on the degree of danger or probable danger to a person or the public. Ohio has five schedules. Controlled substances in Schedule I are considered the highest danger.

The Drug Chemistry Department uses certain methodologies to complete the analysis. Preliminary screenings include color tests, microscopic identification and macroscopic identification. Confirmatory tests include Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) and Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS). Other methods can be used as needed in the laboratory.

Following analysis, a forensic chemist interprets the instrumental data and prepares a report of his/her findings. This report is used in criminal court proceedings and often the forensic chemist is asked to provide expert testimony to the courts. Forensic chemists may also be called upon to analyze samples for federal agencies operating within Ohio for substances controlled under the Federal Uniform Controlled Substances Act. This action by the Drug Enforcement Administration, like the state statutes, organizes drugs into schedules which define substances that are controlled. Drugs are classified on their potential for abuse, current accepted medical use, and potential for dependence. There are five schedules in the federal guidelines.