FORENSIC TOXICOLOGY IS THE APPLICATION OF THE SCIENTIFIC PRINCIPLES OF TOXICOLOGY AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY TO LEGAL MATTERS. RML PROVIDES ANALYTICAL (TESTING) SERVICES, EXPERT CONSULTATION, & TESTIMONY. WE USE GC/MS, HPLC/MS/MS, AND OTHER MODERN METHODS OF ANALYSIS. WE ALSO OFFER INFRARED MICROSCOPY AND ELECTRON MICROSCOPY FOR THE IDENTIFICATION OF SMALL PARTICLES. Particular drugs of interest for analysis include fentanyl, LSD, cocaine, heroin metabolite (6-MAM), methamphetamine, THC, opiates, PCP, cyclobenzaprine, and other psychoactive medications.
RML is certified, inspected, and/or licensed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Healthcare Finance Administration (Federal laboratory program), and the FDA. We also participate in the College of American Pathologists proficiency testing programs for drugs in blood and urine and for blood alcohol.
Modern analytical testing instrumentation, including gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, can be used to prove or disprove the presence or absence of drugs and other toxins and the likely effects of those substances. However, if good technology is misapplied by unskilled workers, erroneous results may be obtained. Therefore, it is a major focus of RML to provide the highest quality testing and interpretation with the ability to examine the laboratory work and evaluations of others. Just because a laboratory has purchased a gas chromatograph - mass spectrometer, HPLC - tandem mass spectrometer or other modern instrumentation does not mean that the users have a clue as to the correct methods to obtain valid results. We maintain all electronic data.
Dr. Sulik, and Dr. Lantz have long experience in civil and criminal litigation as scientific experts. Because we have the most modern technology, and know how to use it optimally, we often are able to help clients who may be otherwise unable to obtain a just result. We work for both the prosecution and defense in criminal cases and both plaintiffs and defendants in civil litigation. It is our conviction that "science is science" and is necessarily objective. RML is licensed and inspected by the US Department of Health and Human Services, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
we may be of any assistance in the analysis of legitimate or illicit substances,
such as methamphetamine, flunitrazepam ("Roofies"), cocaine, cotinine,
LSD, alcohol, fentanyl, GHB, GBL, MDMA (ecstasy),
SPICE (JWH-018), and marijuana, please contact us. We provide expert scientific assistance
in cases involving driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs
(DUI and DUID). For example, we are able to quantitate the THC in
blood as an indicator of the degree of intoxication of a driver who had
used marijuana. This is important, because it is the concentration of a
drug in the blood, not in the urine, which is important in any determination
of intoxication. There is a significant amount of bad forensic and laboratory
work passed off as if it were science. This often includes
exaggerated interpretation of urine cannabis metabolite (THC-COOH) concentrations.
A common misuse of cannabis metabolite (THC-COOH) analysis is in the interpretation of changing concentrations of that metabolite. After long term use of marijuana, the body fat contains a large amount of THC. It then slowly leaches out of the fat, into the blood, then into the liver, where it is converted to THC-COOH. The THC-COOH is then excreted into the urine. This results in decreasing THC-COOH concentrations in the urine. In a major study by the US Navy, it was found that it can take two months after the last marijuana use for the urine to become "negative" for THC-COOH. During the last two weeks or so, it is quite reasonable to expect that the urine will alternate between "positive" and negative." That is, that the concentration will be slightly above, then slightly below the cut-off value. This is due to normal metabolic effects, such as subject state of hydration and weight loss. It also is due to the definition of "positive" and "negative." If a urine sample is found to contain even 1ng/mL less than the cutoff level, it is termed to be "negative." If it is 1ng/mL greater than the cutoff level, it is termed "positive." Note that with modern instrumentation, such as HPLC/MS/MS, it is quite possible to detect less than 1ng/mL THC-COOH. Therefore, the time for detection after last use may be greater than that found in the Navy study, which used a much higher concentrations for the cut-off level.
Another analysis that we offer is that for the active component in marijuana, THC, and its active metabolite, THC-OH. These are absent from urine more than 5-6 hours after the last use of marijuana. Therefore, their absence is proof of lack of recent effective use. We offer LC/MS/MS analysis of the three forensically important cannabinoids, THC, THC-OH, THC-COOH. Limits of detection for the three cannabinoids of forensic interest, THC, THC-OH, and THC-COOH are less than 500pg/mL.
It is difficult to establish a good correlation between the concentration of THC and the effects on the subject (1).
In the last few years, many interesting THC-like compounds have been invented. The science and pharmacology of them is not yet well understood. We now offer LCMSMS analysis for the detection of the use of several of the JWH series of compounds and other "synthetic cannabinoids."
A recent publication (2) provides a good review of what is known about the synthetic cannabinoids and other marijuana alternatives.
OTHER TOXICOLOGICAL TOPICS
Recently, we have found several cases of false
positive results of 6-MAM, the heroin metabolite, in people who were taking
prescription Suboxone (Buprenorphine and naloxone). The other laboratories
confused naloxone and 6-MAM, presumably because they have the same molecular
mass. This is an excellent example of why all test results must be
We also provide analyses of hair for the presence of drugs. We use enzyme immunoassay (EIA) or radioimmunoassay (RIA) for screening tests, and HPLC/MS/MS and GC/MS or GC/MS/MS for confirmatory testing.
Other useful RML pages: Forensic Serology and Gunshot Residue Analysis, Fire Debris Analysis (drug residues at fire scenes), and the RML Home Page. Useful information on poisonous plants can be found at the Cornell University site. Also consider some of the other links in the chemistry section of our home page.
1. Grotenhermen, F., et al, "Developing Limits for driving under cannabis," Addiction 102, 1910-1917 (2007)
2. Rosenbaum, C., et al, "...A Review of
Herbal Marijuana Alternatives..." J. Medical Toxicology 8, 15-32,
Rocky Mountain Instrumental
108 Coronado Ct.
Ft. Collins, CO 80525
970-266-8108 303-530-1169 (Denver Metro voice and FAX)
UPDATE: 16 APRIL 2012