Drug analysts at North Carolina's State Bureau of Investigation can no longer use visual inspection alone in drug cases. The process they had been using involved analyst identification of prescription drugs simply by looking at them. They'll be using chemical analysis from now on.
The state's Supreme Court mandated the change, calling the visual ID method a technique for cutting corners, according to a local press report. A judge said he had little faith in an experienced analyst's ability to make consistently correct identifications. The analyst had selected half of a drug haul in one case for chemical analysis and used a pharmacy handbook for identification of the others, which he identified as Hydrocodone, Adderall, Xanax, Diazepam and Ritalin.
Some states allow visual-inspection methods, which have been affirmed by higher courts. Two states, however, have blocked the practice.
In North Carolina, lawyers predict appeals of convictions in drug counterfeiting and trafficking cases. One suggests there are "potentially tens of thousands" of such cases.
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