How to handle drugs in the evidence room?
All evidence rooms receive various amounts of many different drugs every day. We thought it might be beneficial to discuss how to handle drugs in your evidence room through a list of steps and recommendations. Obviously, your agency might have different rules and procedures in place to handle drugs, so these are only a few suggestions.
- Count and weigh drugs (in grams) before sealing it in plastic containers. Weigh and count pills as well.
- If possible, weigh Marijuana in grams & ounces and record both weights in the evidence management system.
- If your agency procedures include verification of weights by evidence room personnel, you may also need to weigh the sealed package and record that weight. By weighing the entire package, evidence room personnel won’t ever need to violate the integrity of the seal in order to verify accuracy.
- Fresh or damp marijuana must be dried as much as possible before packaging. Photograph marijuana plants in their original state before drying. Pull plants from the soil and hang upside down to dry. Discard soil but retain containers. Weigh Marijuana plants before and after drying.
- Marijuana cigarettes and butts should be counted and weighed. List the weight of each marijuana bag not just the total weight. Drain the water of water bongs to avoid leaking and smell.
- Perform presumptive test on unknown drugs and record test result with the weight in the evidence management system.
- Package each drug item separately to eliminate the possibility of cross-contamination. Capsules, tablets, powders, liquids, and plant material must be packaged separately. Note that laboratory drug analysis on several forms of narcotics combined in the same package will only identify the drug mixture and may not identify the individual drugs collected.
- Never package paraphernalia with narcotics. If any form of drugs is packaged with paraphernalia, lab analysis can’t ascertain that the paraphernalia originally contained drugs.
- Photograph paraphernalia before packaging and save it in the evidence management system.
- Use extreme care when packing liquid narcotics. Double bag if possible to avoid skin contact.
- Syringes needles need to be removed or covered with needle covers before packaging. If needle is removed using wire cutters, place it in a sharps container or inside the syringe itself.
- Disposal of drugs should always be done with at least two persons present.