New and emerging drugs in state crime lab evidence: Quarter 2 & 3 2020

Data source, utility, and limitations

Crime lab data are a partial indicator of the supply of illegal drugs or prescription drugs that are controlled substances and suspected of being purchased or sold illegally. The data presented here are the results of the Washington State Patrol’s Crime Lab chemistry testing of samples submitted by law enforcement. While the data provide important insights into the supply of drugs, in part due to the use of precise chemical testing which indicates exactly which substance is present, they also have numerous important limitations that are described at the bottom of this page.

On this page, quarterly data provided by the Forensic Laboratory Services Bureau are used to identify drugs that appear to be increasing in law enforcement seizures in the 2 most recent quarters. (Data are preliminary and will change. For more on the data, see the details at the end of the page). We present only notable increases, not overall trends.

Emerging drugs in the second quarter of 2020

Statewide, there were significant jumps (more than double the number of cases testing positive versus in the average quarter in the prior 3 years) in non-prescription "designer" benzodiazepines and in fentanyl. We start with these, and then turn to other drug classes showing increases in specific counties.