Controlled Substances


Examiners in the Controlled Substances Section analyze materials for the presence of controlled substances and marijuana. Controlled substances may be present in substrates that include powders, solid materials, liquids, plant material, mushrooms, blotter paper, and food items. In addition, the section examines pharmaceutical preparations in the form of tablets, capsules, injectables and transdermal patches. Controlled Substances examiners will also analyze evidence that is related to the suspected clandestine manufacture of controlled substances.

Controlled substances are routinely screened using color tests and thin layer chromatography (TLC) with structural confirmation accomplished through gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS).  Additional instrumental techniques such as Accurate Mass Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry coupled with a Direct Analysis in Real Time ion source (AccuTOF-DART), Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) coupled with Attenuated Total Reflectance (ATR), solid state FTIR coupled with Gas Chromatography (DiscovIR), and Gas Chromatography with flame ionization detector (GC/FID) may also be utilized during the course of a controlled substance analysis.

Report of Drug Trends in Virginia

In 2013, a joint report from the Department of Forensic Science and the Department of Criminal Justice Services was released entitled “Drug Cases Submitted to the Virginia Department of Forensic Science.”

The update for calendar year 2014 was released on July 23, 2015.

The update for calendar year 2015 was released on September 20, 2016.

The update for calendar year 2016 was released on July 28, 2017.

The update for calendar year 2018 was released on November 5, 2019.

The update for calendar year 2019 was released on November 5, 2020.

The update for calendar year 2020 was released on August 6, 2021.

The update for calendar year 2021 was released on April 11, 2022.

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