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Law Enforcement > Bureau of Criminal Investigation > Laboratory Division > Drug Chemistry Unit

Drug Chemistry Unit

The Drug Chemistry Unit examines physical evidence to determine the presence or absence of illegal or harmful substances.  Identification of controlled substances such as pharmaceuticals, illicit drugs, botanical material, related chemicals and paraphernalia is the focus of forensic scientists in the Drug Chemistry Section. Examples of substances identified include marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, prescription drugs, synthetic cannabinoids, and synthetic stimulants marketed as bath salts. Individual evidence submissions range from trace quantities to bulk quantities.

BCI has made efforts to protect our employees and law enforcement personnel from accidental exposure to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids through the promotion of safe handling techniques and personal protective equipment. Read the document for more information about drug evidence in the courtroom.

Read the FAQs for the latest information on submitting Cannabis Evidence to the Drug Chemistry Laboratory. 

In order to triage submissions of drug evidence in the laboraotry, submitters are asked to complete a Drug Evidence Request form prior to submitting evidence to the laboratory. 

What is a pharmacophore? 

A pharmacophore represents the minimum required parts of a drug or molecule needed to bind to a receptor. Binding to a receptor generates an effect in the body (usually in the brain), which has been documented by scientific studies. Ohio Administrative Code 4729-11-02 gives an established forensic laboratory the ability to identify the synthetic cannabinoid pharmacophore found within a larger drug molecule.

How are pharmachophores scheduled?
Pharmacophores are schedule I drugs.

Where can I find the schedule of a substance identified in a report?
The Ohio Administrative Code is available on the internet. Refer to OAC section  4729:9-1-01 for a list of scheduled compounds in the state of Ohio.

What are typical Drug Chemistry results and what do they mean?
Insufficient for analysis - there is not enough substance to perform the scientific tests needed to identify a controlled substance and still leave half of the sample for defense testing.

Insufficient for identification - there is enough substance to perform the scientific tests but the results are inconclusive or too weak to make a positive call.

Not tested – the evidence was not tested due to limited sample size or a determination that analysis of the sample would not add additional weight/information to the case.

Markings indicate- the analyst has identified the tablets based on the markings to be a non-controlled substance.

How do I package marijuana plants?
Remove all growing medium (roots, dirt…) and mature stalks 2inches below the lowest leaf bearing branch.  Dry all vegetation and package in paper bags.

How do I package liquids from meth labs?
When possible, use glass vials inside suitable bottles packaged separately in plastic bags. For additional information, please contact a Drug Chemistry Laboratory Supervisor.

Do you test food products?
Yes, on a case by case basis.

Does the Chemistry section test bodily fluids or hair for the presence of controlled substances?
No. The BCI Drug Chemistry section does not test bodily fluids or hair for the presence of controlled substances.

Does the Chemistry section test for household items (bleach or cleaning solutions) or poisons?
No. The BCI Drug Chemistry section does not have the methods or protocols in place to determine these types of compounds.

Does the Chemistry section determine purity of substances?
No. The BCI Drug Chemistry section reports the identification of controlled substances, but it does not convey the purity of the substance.

Does the Chemistry section test used syringes for the presence of controlled substances?
When possible, officers should submit the liquid contents, rather than the syringe itself. Syringes may be submitted to the laboratory with a laboratory supervisor’s approval. Residue from syringes will only be considered for testing in regards to death related cases. Read the guidelines for more information regarding syringe evidence rinsing.

Drug Chemistry Submission Policies:
BCI Chemistry Policy

Drug Chemistry Unit Laboratory Contacts:

London & Springfield BCI Laboratories
James Smith
Laboratory Supervisor
Bowling Green BCI Laboratory
Cassandra Agosti
Laboratory Supervisor
Richfield BCI Laboratory
Barbara Hoover
Laboratory Supervisor