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Drug trends across Washington: Crime lab data

What you will find on this page

Crime lab cases, reflecting drugs seized by state and local law enforcement and by federal and other multi-county agencies throughout the state and sent to the state crime lab for testing as potential evidence, are presented as a partial indicator of the supply of drugs. Three categories of drugs are presented:

Counts represent the number of cases in which a given drug was found, regardless of the number and amount of substances tested. With the Blake decision, far fewer drug cases are being prosecuted, thus far fewer submissions to the state crime lab. We suggest focusing on the share of cases testing positive for a given drug class for 2021.

Counts of cases over time

Data source: Forensic Laboratory Services Bureau, Washington State Patrol. 2021 counts and onward are impacted by the 2/25/2021 Washington State v Blake decision.
Data source: Forensic Laboratory Services Bureau, Washington State Patrol. 2021 counts and onward are impacted by the 2/25/2021 Washington State v Blake decision.
Data source: Forensic Laboratory Services Bureau, Washington State Patrol. Phenethylamines here excludes methamphetamine and amphetamine. 2021 counts and onward are impacted by the 2/25/2021 Washington State v Blake decision.

As a share of all drug cases

While the above charts looked at counts of drug cases, below we focus on what proportion of all unique cases involved the same drugs of interest. (A given case may involve multiple drug findings and thus multiple "drug cases" across drug categories, so the percentages add to more than 100%.) This helps us understand how prominent the drug has been in law enforcement case loads, which of course reflects not only prominence among drug users but also prominence among law enforcement and among distributors and dealers. For example, the proportion of drug cases involving cannabis has fallen in recent years due to de-emphasis among local law enforcement and then legalization of recreational marijuana. Heroin and methamphetamine, on the other hand, are becoming more prominent in the state in the last several years.

Again, to highlight less common drugs and better see their growth, turn off the most common drug(s) in a chart by clicking on the drug name(s) in the legend.

Data source: Forensic Laboratory Services Bureau, Washington State Patrol
Data source: Forensic Laboratory Services Bureau, Washington State Patrol
Data source: Forensic Laboratory Services Bureau, Washington State Patrol. Phenethylamines here excludes methamphetamine and amphetamine.