​The Seized Drugs Unit analyzes powders, liquids, tablets, plant material and other seized drugs. Preliminary testing includes reference source comparison, chemical color tests, chromatography, and portable Raman spectroscopy. Confirmatory testing includes mass spectrometry, infrared spectroscopy, and x-ray fluorescence spectrometry.

Seized Drugs laboratory requests may be submitted by the following:

  • Special assignment investigators
  • Investigative Specialists
  • Officers that receive a Request for Additional (RFA) from the District Attorney's Office

If a valid preliminary field test checklist is included in the evidence, the item will not be analyzed unless a District Court or Federal Court date is set.

The weight of an item will be reported, unless otherwise noted. The net weight reflects the weight of the substance without any packaging. The gross weight reflects the weight of the substance with the packaging listed on the report. 

Pharmaceutical preparations
Reference source comparison will typically be performed on pharmaceutical preparations. Confirmatory testing will be performed on these pharmaceutical preparations when a court date is set in District or Federal Court and a Forensic Laboratory Examination Request is submitted.

Cases involving illicit tablets, pills, or capsules will be subject to sample limitations. At least one (1) of each type of marking/logo will typically be analyzed.  Another Forensic Laboratory Examination Request may be submitted if analysis on additional tablets, pills, or capsules are needed for an upcoming District or Federal court date.

​Drug paraphernalia containing residue is typically NOT analyzed by the Seized Drugs Unit, however extenuating circumstances can be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Cannabis Testing

Cases involving suspected Cannabis will be analyzed using a decision point threshold method.  The LVMPD  Forensic Laboratory uses a threshold of 1% delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content in plant material, without decarboxylation of tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), to conclusively identify marijuana. Items above 1% are reported as "marijuana" and items below 1% may be quantitated to determine the percentage of THC and THCA. 

This 1% decision point threshold method is only used on samples containing leafy plant material.  This method will not be used on seeds, oils, edibles, roots, stems, stalks, "moon rocks", or leafy plant material samples below 2 grams. 

Sample Limitations Policy

To meet casework demands and to provide for responsible use of resources, the Forensic Laboratory has implemented sample limitations in the Seized Drugs Unit regarding the analysis of suspected Cannabis items (e.g., plant material, edibles, oils, vape pens and cartridges), pharmaceuticals, illicit tablets and capsules. For details regarding the sample limitation policy, please contact the Forensic Laboratory prior to submitting a Forensic Laboratory request that includes these items.

Special Reporting Situations
Synthesis intermediates and breakdown products detected during analysis may not be reported.  Below are examples of what will be reported when these situations occur:

Scenario Reported as:
Both PCC and PCP are identifiedPCP
Both 4-ANPP and Fentanyl are identified
Amphetamine, Methamphetamine, and N,N-Dimethylamphetamine identified in a smoking deviceMethamphetamine
Acetylcodeine, 6-Monoacetylmorphine, and Heroin are identifiedHeroin​