Forensic Chemistry Analysis Paper Example

Interpol defines the term ‘drug’ as a substance of synthetic or herbal origin which alters the state of mind when it exerts its action on the central nervous system (Interpol, 2010). It is also important to note the fact that the modern description of a drug includes substances such as alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, and controlled substances. Although it is currently very difficult to have a distinct classification of drugs due to the high number of substances which qualifies to be referred to as drugs, there are three main generalizations according to origin.

To start with, natural drugs are active ingredients from plants or other living systems which can be isolated through extraction. A good example of this class of drugs is caffeine contained in coffee, and morphine. Secondly, semi-synthetic drugs are substances from natural sources but have undergone a certain processing such as heroin obtained from acetylating of morphine; as well as steroids. Lastly, synthetic drugs are produced artificially from chemical compounds and are mostly sold in illicit markets. These includes, but not limited to diazepam and amphetamines.

The question of integrity of such a classification arises especially when some of the drugs such as steroids can fall into various classifications. Question 2 The question of whether caffeine can cause addiction has currently been a centre of heated debate with parties either supporting or refuting this claim. Those who say that it cause addiction base their argument on the fact that withdrawal from taking caffeine by a person who has been consuming it will definitely cause headache. A term has even been coined-caffeine withdrawal syndrome- referring to the unpleasant feeling one gets after stopping to take caffeine.

On the other hand, some say that such a feeling should never be compared to true addiction because caffeine only results in alertness. Whereas comparison of various arguments would only place the answer to this question somewhere in between, it is rational to assert that caffeine is an addictive substance (Howard, 1999). However, because one can readily stop taking it, this can not be termed as strong physical addiction. The right word for this is psychological addiction and is the most common in the world today (Howard, 1999).

The effects therein resulting from withdrawal of caffeine consumption involve mild alteration of the functioning of the mind-mild stimulant. In most cases people tend to have unpleasant feelings after discontinuation of caffeine consumption due to the belief they have that it is a strong stimulant. The same case applies to chocolate consumption and bubble gum chewing. However, scientists have suggested that chocolate contains substances that cause pleasure stimuli hence when one stop taking it; they would develop sad or unhappy feelings (Nodependence.

com, 2005). Question 3 THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), a component contained in marijuana, is believed to produce psychotropic effects and in other cases behavioral changes such as motor activity depression, anticonvulsant activity, and discriminative cue in laboratory animals (Dewey, 1996 as cited in Martin et al, 1999). The functional group in THC is the hydroxyl group contained in the phenol. It is referred to as the phenol hydroxyl group of THC. THC in marijuana is detected by the duquenois-lavine test confirmed by the appearance of purple coloration.

In addition, other presumptive tests which can be applied in testing THC include Corinth V test and the fast blue BB-TLC developer. The fast blue BB-TLC developer develops specific color for various cannabinoid and involves a coupling reaction; there are basically three cannabinoids in plant extract. Crystal tests, which mostly rely on the users ability to identify the crystal forms is limited when working with plant extracts because the elevated levels of metals (Ca, Mn, Zn and Fe) which are used as enzyme co-factors would interfere with the occurrence of crystal forms and thereby the results interpretation.

Question 4 Whereas estradiol is the predominant hormone in females thereby accounting for various changes and physical appearances mainly occurring during puberty, testosterone is the cardinal hormone in males. Apart from aiding in development of male sexual characteristics, it is actively involved in reproduction like estradiol in female. The presumptive test which could be used to differentiate these two hormones with closely similar chemical structures is the phenolphthalein test. Because estradiol would produce a weak acidic condition when mixed with phenolphthalein, the reagent will therefore turn colorless.

On the other hand, testosterone will produce a weak basic condition hence the test will turn intense pink. Testosterone estradiol Due to their unique physiological characteristics most steroid hormones have received increasing attention form scientists. In this context, gas chromatography technique is currently being applied in separation of various steroids such as testosterone and estradiol mixture. Their polar groups including the hydroxyl side chains are of great importance during separation inside the column where migration depends on magnitude of charge.

In most cases, these substances must be transformed into derivatives that are less polar but more volatile in order to enhance migration towards the separation front. Question 5 While various presumptive tests are available for drug identification in the laboratories, there are limited techniques available to test and identify these drugs in the field by detectives. Perhaps this is the main cause that culminated to a scene that is very common in movies where detectives are seen tasting a powder that is suspected to be an illicit drug in order to determine the identity.

This raises various issues of concern. To start with, it is a poor laboratory practice on itself. Whichever an argument that can be tabled, the rationale regarding an action that directly jeopardizes an individual’s life is flawed and can never be justified. Secondly, such an action lacks basis especially in the current world where we have witnessed events of enveloped anthrax powder that kill within a couple of hours. Inasmuch as a security officer would say that cocaine has a distinct taste, no one is sure how anthrax tastes, or would like to know anyway.

Also, in an attempt to come up with more sophisticated drug concealment methods, drug traffickers mix drugs with other substances such as HCL hence detection through tasting would be futile. Therefore, this should act as impetus towards relying on the presumptive tests that are otherwise reliable and enhance good laboratory practice. Question 6 Morphine is not very soluble in organic solvents such as benzene (Ayatollah, 2001). On the other hand, the secondary alkaloids are readily dissolved in the organic solvent. The first filtration will give away papaverine which forms crystal in pH of 6.

4. Extraction with organic solvent will render morphine insoluble hence it will precipitate and extracted from the mixture. Finally, adjusting the pH to 9. 0 will render the solution more alkaline and therefore noscapine will become insoluble and therefore is extracted form the mixture. Question 7 Dopamine is catecholamine neurotransmitters. The functional group in dopamine is the amine group which is called a biogenic amine. It acts on dopaminergic neurons hence producing stimulating effect on circulatory system including the heart, as well as increasing the metabolic rate in the body.

In addition, it helps in brain activity modulation, coordinate movement and flow of information in the brain. Dopamine Serotonin causes stimulation of the serotoninergic system which in turn play role in modulation of mood, sleep, emotion and appetite. Insufficient transmission of serotonin to the receptor proteins leads to depression. Physiologically, serotonin causes smooth muscle contraction mainly through enhancing transport of calcium into the cells which subsequently cause contraction of the muscle cells. Question 8 Antidepressants are drugs used to treat depression.

There are concerns on whether antidepressants are drug of abuse or not. They have proved very effective in the treatment of addictive syndrome although there have been cases of abuse especially for methadone-treated addicts. However, by definition such use of antidepressant would be termed as misuse and not abuse. It is therefore rational to conclude that because most of the withdrawal symptoms associated with both antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs are not addictive potential as seen in other classes of drugs, they are not drug of abuse.

In addition, most of drugs in this class are highly controlled and would only reach the consumer through prescriptions by a physician. ? References Interpol. 2010. Synthetic drugs glossary. Retrieved August 11, 2010, from http://www. interpol. int/Public/Drugs/synthetic/glossary. asp Howard, M. 1999. Is caffeine addictive? Retrieved August 11, 2010, from http://serendip. brynmawr. edu/bb/neuro/neuro99/web3/Howard. html Nodependence. com. 2005. Chocolate addiction. Retrieved August 11, 2010, from http://www.

nodependence. com/addictions/chocolate-addiction/chocolate-addiction. html B. R. Martin, B. R. , Jefferson, R. , Winckler, R. , Wiley, J. L. , and Crocker, P. J. 1999. Manipulation of the Tetrahydrocannabinol Side Chain Delineates Agonists, Partial Agonists, and Antagonists. JPET, 290 (3): 1065-1079 Ayatollah, J. 2001. Hungarian Extraction of Alkaloids from Poppy Straw. Retrieved August 11, 2010, from http://www. poppies. org/2001/07/13/hungarian-extraction-of-alkaloids-from-poppy-straw/