Forensic Drug Analysis

Our drugs team comprises very experienced experts in this field, with many years experience working in forensic science laboratories. The drugs team can provide expert evaluation of various aspects of drug examinations and analysis including:

Investigation and valuation of cannabis farm

  • Identification and purity of illicit substances, such as cannabis, heroin, amphetamine and cocaine
  • Review of the procedures which have been used to identify or quantify illicit drugs, such as whether appropriately validated and accredited methods have been used
  • Examination and comment on "Legal Highs", precursors and cutting agents
  • Comparisons of illicit substances to establish origin
  • Comment on size of seizures and wraps in relation to charges under the Misuse of Drugs Act of personal use and intent to supply
  • Comment and re-evaluation of valuations carried out on behalf of the prosecution
  • Comparison of drugs packaging to determine possible origins e.g. clingfilm and plastic bags
  • Examination of paraphernalia items for traces of illicit substances e.g. weighing scales, foils and spoons
  • Comment on the prosecution or defence viewpoint

 

Case study:

We were recently instructed by solicitors acting for two defendents who had been charged with drugs related offences

The scientist acting for the prosecution had examined various items including:

Several packets of white powder which had been analysed and buphedrone1, 2 was “identified”.  When our expert  re-examined these findings it was clear that no reference Buphedrone had been analysed by the examining laboratory. This would be normal practice when identifying controlled substances, but had not been carried out in this case. Despite this, the prosecution scientist had “identified” the drug as being present.

It is normal good practice when examining suspected controlled drugs to use two independent tests in order to provide and unequivocal identification. Because of the lack of reference drug, only one test had been used. In our view this cast doubt on the identification.  Due to our intervention, the prosecution scientist agreed to carry out more tests, however the case was subsequently dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.

1, Buphedrone is a stimulant drug producing similar effects as amphetamine and MDMA (ecstacy). It can cause increased sociablilty, euphoria, disinhibition and energy. It can also have severe adverse effects such as hyperthermia and heart effects.

2.Buphedrone is a derivative of the cathionone group of drugs, which, along with methedrone and  other derivatives are Class B drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. This came into effect in April 2010.