Volume 23, Issue 1 (January 1978)
The Forensic Identification of Heroin
As a result of the rapid increase in requests and the ever-rising backlog of cases, forensic science laboratories are developing an intense interest in analytical procedures that can provide rapid, inexpensive, and sensitive methods for identifying drugs. However, the forensic chemist must always be aware of the scientific accountability that is expected of him or her in our adversary system of justice. The necessity for performing a specific identification far outweighs any shortcuts that may be adopted to expedite a chemical analysis. As the importance of scientific testimony grows, the courts are becoming more conscious of criteria that must be met to support the admissibility of scientific evidence. The accuracy of heretofore accepted statements and descriptions relating to the identification and comparison of physical evidence is increasingly becoming subject to scrutiny and debate. Practitioners of the law are starting to take advantage of inconsistencies in the scientific literature and the lack of experimental data to discredit an entire scheme of analysis. One only has to examine recent court decisions pertaining to the forensic analysis of marihuana to confirm this trend. The contrasting opinions of experts regarding the number of Cannabis species have served to confuse and, in some instances, discredit a botanical and chemical scheme of analysis that until the present has found general acceptanee in the forensic science community [1,2].