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Drug Chemistry Section

The Drug Chemistry Section is responsible for identifying substances scheduled by Ohio Administrative Code section 4729:9-1. Using analytical techniques such as infrared spectroscopy and mass spectrometry, the section routinely analyzes more than 10,000 items a year.

Scope of Testing

The Drug Chemistry Section conducts qualitative analyses on suspected drugs of abuse using both a presumptive analytical technique to determine the likely identity of a substance and a confirmatory technique such as infrared spectroscopy or mass spectrometry to conclusively determine the identity of an unknown compound. In addition, the section performs quantitative analyses on submissions of suspected cannabis and cannabis concentrates to determine the percentage by weight of tetrahydrocannabinol present. Results are only reported for compounds that both presumptively and confirmatively test positive.

The drugs of abuse tested by the Drug Chemistry Section can belong to the following classes of drugs:

  • Stimulants – This category of drugs can consist of compounds such as cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, khat and substituted cathinones (bath salts).
  • Opioids and Opiates – This category of drugs can consist of prescription drugs namely oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, codeine and methadone. It also includes non-prescription drug such as heroin and fentanyl related compounds.
  • Depressants and sedatives – This category of drugs can consist of prescription drugs including alprazolam, diazepam, clonazepam and zolpidem.
  • Hallucinogens – This category of drugs can consist of compounds such as LSD, MDMA (Molly or ecstasy), hallucinogenic mushrooms, marihuana and synthetic marihuana (K2 or spice).
  • Anabolic steroids – This category of drugs consists of testosterone and other structurally related anabolic steroids.
  • Inhalants – Not traditionally considered a class of drugs, gaseous dangerous compounds such as nitrous oxide belong to this category.
  • Pharmacophore Compounds – These types of compounds are ones that mimic the structures of compounds such as synthetic cannabinoids, substituted cathinones, and depressants such as alprazolam or diazepam to provide similar effects. These compounds are not approved by the FDA for human consumption.

NOTE: The list of compounds above is not an all-inclusive list of the compounds that are identified by the Drug Chemistry section. Questions about specific drugs should be forwarded to the laboratory.


All reported results from the Drug Chemistry Section will indicate the identity, the weight if not a residue, and the Ohio Administrative Code schedule of the compound. When applicable, the dosage of the pharmaceutical product will be reported. If a quantitative result for cannabis compounds is being reported, it will be reported as a percent by weight of total THC (a combination of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid).

All testing methods used by the Drug Chemistry Section meet the requirements established by the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) for forensic laboratories.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol Drug Chemistry Section utilizes Best Evidence Selected for Testing (BEST) for internal customers only. BEST allows the analysis of the highest penalty item in a case, excludes the lower penalty items, and reduces the turnaround time. If testing is needed on the excluded items, an email should be sent to the laboratory. The excluded items will be tested upon receipt of the email.

Special Requirements

Certain submissions have special considerations. Please package items properly to ensure the item will be accepted for testing.

  • Organic substances including plants and plant material should be dried before submitting them to the laboratory for testing. Wet plants and plant material quickly degrade to a state where identification of the material can be compromised. If non-dried material must be submitted to the laboratory, it is recommended the item be packaged in paper containers to slow the degradation process.
  • Quantitative analysis for cannabis and concentrates must be a minimum of 5 grams for cannabis flower and 0.1 gram for concentrate samples. Quantitative analysis is only routinely performed to support potential felony charges.
  • Liquids should be submitted in sealed, leak resistant containers. The Drug Chemistry Section cannot identify specific liquids and will only test them for the possible presence of a controlled substance.
  • Syringes and other potentially hazardous sharp items must be submitted in puncture resistant packaging. Proper packaging protects personnel when handling these items. Syringes and other hazardous sharp items will not be tested by the Drug Chemistry section if other controlled substance items are also present in the case or if they are contaminated by potentially infectious material such as blood (visible upon inspection).
  • Suspected submissions of khat should be marked "khat" on the submission form. Khat's active ingredient cathinone degrades rapidly if the material is not kept frozen. The laboratory will keep all known or suspected khat cases in a frozen state during storage.

Items not properly sealed will need to be corrected before they are accepted and logged into the laboratory.

Toxicology Section

The Toxicology Section provides laboratory analyses of biological specimens (urine, blood, serum and vitreous humor) to determine the presence of both alcohol and drugs. The laboratory findings can then be used to assist law enforcement and legal communities to explain impairment and/or human performance associated with arrests, crashes and fatalities. The Toxicology Section currently receives and completes in excess of 10,000 cases annually.

Scope of Testing
The Toxicology Section conducts both qualitative and quantitative analyses utilizing immunoassay instrumentation, gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. All prohibited compounds shall be reported quantitatively. All non-prohibited compounds in urine shall be reported qualitatively.

Qualitative Analysis: Two (2) dissimilar tests, a presumptive test and a confirmation test, are conducted to conclude the presence or absence of the drugs included in the laboratory’s test menu. The laboratory report will reflect the presence of a drug as Positive. (ex. Tramadol Positive) Positive findings are reported ONLY if both dissimilar tests conducted support the same conclusion.

Quantitative Analysis: Two (2) dissimilar tests, a presumptive test and a confirmation test, are conducted to conclude the presence or absence of the drugs included in the laboratory’s test menu. Positive results are quantitatively measured to reflect the amount of drug present. The laboratory report will reflect the name of the drug present and the amount of drug present. A calculated range of uncertainty will accompany all quantitative results. (ex. Cocaine 535.20 ng/mL +/- 37.46 ng/mL). Positive findings are reported ONLY if both dissimilar tests conducted support the same conclusion.

The test menu for this laboratory includes both therapeutic drugs and drugs of abuse. Some of the included drugs and drug classes are:

  • Per se drugs (ORC 4511.19)
    • Sympathomimetic Amines (SMA): amphetamine, methamphetamine, etc.
    • Cocaine and Benzoylecgonine (metabolite)
    • Cannabinoids (MJ): parent drug and metabolites
    • Phencyclidine (PCP)
    • 6-mono-acetyl morphine (6MAM): heroin metabolite
  • Therapeutic Drugs:
    • Opiates: morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone
    • Benzodiazepines: diazepam, alprazolam, clonazepam, lorazepam, etc.
    • Buprenorphine (suboxone)
    • Barbiturates: butalbital, phenobarbital, secobarbital
    • Additional analgesics: fentanyl, methadone, tramadol, etc.
    • Muscle Relaxants / Sedatives: Soma, Zolpidem, etc.
    • Anticonvulsant/Nerve pain medication: Gabapentin

For a full list of the drugs included in the test menu for both blood and urine samples, including cutoff levels, please see the Blood and Urine Drug Panel Information quick link.

The laboratory routinely conducts quantitative analyses for the presence of ethanol (drinking alcohol) within biological specimens utilizing headspace gas chromatography. Non-biological specimens such as beverages may be analyzed for the presence of ethanol as well.

This laboratory follows strict guidelines and validated methods to produce legally defensible results for all analyses conducted. The methods utilized meet the standards established by the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) for forensic laboratories, as well as the guidelines set forth in the Ohio Administrative Code.

This laboratory does not currently have the methodology to conduct testing for the following in biological specimens:

  • Synthetic Cannabinoids
  • Bath Salts
  • “Huffing” cases
  • DFSA cases (drug facilitated sexual assault)

Samples requiring these types of analyses should not be sent to this laboratory.

Specimen Selection & Packaging

If possible, submit both urine and blood; both have advantages.

Urine Advantages

  1. Wide retention time window – drugs are retained in the urine much longer than in the blood; provides insight into what the person has taken hours, even days before; best suited to demonstrate prior drug abuse or exposure
  2. Easy to obtain; typically large amount provided
  3. Heroin use – urine is the BEST sample when heroin is suspected; able to target heroin metabolite (6MAM) to definitively show heroin use. Blood has EXTREMELY short retention times for heroin and metabolite; often gone in minutes

Urine Disadvantages

  1. Quantitative results for prescription drugs (non per se drugs) in urine ARE NOT MEANINGFUL, other than to say the person had the drug(s) in his/her system. No conclusions as to impairment or prescription level can be drawn from urine results
  2. Officer observations and/or other indicators of impairment are a must with a urine specimen

Blood Advantages

  1. Indicative of more recent drug usage; at time of incident
  2. Quantitative results ARE MEANINGFUL in blood; results can be evaluated to determine therapeutic and/or impairment levels
  3. Able to detect drugs at lower levels

Blood Disadvantages

  1. More difficult to obtain; invasive
  2. Limited retention time window – drugs are retained in blood for much shorter periods of time; difficult to detect
  3. Dirty sample; requires more clean-up prior to analysis
  4. Small amount of sample typically collected

Biological Specimen Packaging

  • Blood – gray top tubes contain sodium fluoride (preservative; maintain sample integrity) and potassium oxalate (anti-coagulant; prevents clots, sample integrity)
  • Urine – add sodium fluoride (preservative; maintain sample integrity)

Label Requirements (OAC 3701-53-05)

  1. Name of suspect
  2. Date and time of collection
  3. Name or initials of person collecting sample
  4. Name or initials of person sealing the sample



Ohio State Highway Patrol Crime Laboratory
1583 Alum Creek Drive
Columbus, Ohio 43209
(614) 466-4790
Fax (614) 728-0451

The Ohio State Highway Patrol Crime Laboratory first achieved accreditation in 2008 and has maintained national accreditation ever since.  The Crime Laboratory is currently accredited through ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) to ISO/IEC 17025:2017 standards.  To maintain ANAB accreditation, the Laboratory undergoes an assessment activity (audit) every year and a full on-site inspection every four (4) years.

Contact Us

Call #677 or click HERE to email.

Physical Location & Certified Mail Address
Ohio State Highway Patrol
1970 West Broad Street
Columbus, Ohio 43223

Mailing Address
Ohio State Highway Patrol
PO Box 182074
Columbus, Ohio 43218-2074

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