The seized drugs section determines whether a controlled substance, or illegal drug, is present in an item of evidence. The evidence items can be pills, plants, parts of plants, drug paraphernalia and other items. Among the substances chemists identify are marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, opioids, prescription drugs, synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic stimulants, commonly called bath salts.
Analysts use a variety of methods, including spot tests, microcrystalline testing, thin-layer chromatography, gas chromatography and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, to identify if a drug is present and whether it is controlled. Analysts also provide expert testimony in court proceedings.