Category Archives: Forensic Toxicology

CANNABIS

INTRODUCTION

Cannabis is derived from the cannabis plant (cannabis sativa). It grows wild in many of the tropical and temperate areas of the world.

Cannabis is a drug that comes from Indian hemp plants such as Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica.

EFFECT OF CANNABIS

  • Cannabis is a depressant drug.
  • They slow down the activity of the central nervous system and the messages going between the brain and the body.
  • When large doses of cannabis are taken it may also produce hallucinogenic effects.

Cannabis Appearance

Leaves from the cannabis plant are bright green and have a distinctive shape with five or seven leaflets. The flowering tops and upper leaves are covered in a sticky resin.

Cannabis Also Known As:

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ACTIVE INGREDIENT OF CANNABIS

The main active ingredient in cannabis is called delta-9 tetrahydro-cannabinol, commonly known as THC. This is the part of the plant that gives the “high.”There is a wide range of THC potency between cannabis products.

Cannabis Is Used In Three Main Forms:

1. Marijuana

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  • Marijuana is the most common and least potent form of cannabis. Marijuana is the dried leaves and flowers of the plant.
  • It is smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes (joints), or in a pipe (a bong).

2. Hashish

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  • Hashish (“hash”) is dried cannabis resin, usually in the form of a small block. The concentration of THC in hashish is higher than in marijuana, producing stronger effects.
  • It is usually added to tobacco and smoked, or baked and eaten in foods such as hash cookies.

3. Hash Oil.

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  • Hash oil is a thick, oily liquid, golden brown to black in colour, which is extracted from cannabis. Hash oil is the strongest form of cannabis.
  • It is usually spread on the tip or paper of a cigarette and then smoked.

Short-Term Effects of Cannabis

  • Dryness of the eyes, mouth, and throat;
  • Feeling of well-being;
  • Talkativeness;
  • Drowsiness;
  • Loss of inhibitions;
  • Decreased nausea;
  • Increased appetite;
  • Loss of co-ordination;
  • Bloodshot eyes;
  • Anxiety and paranoia.

Long-Term Effects of Cannabis

  • Increased risk of respiratory diseases associated with smoking, including cancer;
  • Decreased memory and learning abilities;
  • Decreased motivation in areas such as study, work or concentration.

Medical Uses

Cannabis has been used for medical purposes for many centuries. It has been reported that cannabis may be useful to help conditions such as:

  • Wasting And Severe Weight Loss, In People With HIV/AIDS, Cancer, Or Anorexia Nervosa, As It May Be Used As An Appetite Stimulant.
  • Nausea And Vomiting, Particularly When Associated With Chemotherapy.
  • Pain Relief, For Example In People With Cancer And Arthritis.
  • Relief From Symptoms Of Some Neurological Disorders That Involve Muscle Spasms, Including Multiple Sclerosis And Spinal Cord Injury.
  • Asthma.
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma

Cannabis is consumed in many different ways:

  • Vaporizer, which heats any form of cannabis to 165–190 °C (329–374 °F), causing the active ingredients to evaporate into A vapor without burning the plant material (the boiling point of THC is 157 °C (315 °F) at 760 mmhg pressure).
  • Smoking, which typically involves burning and inhaling vaporized cannabinoids (“smoke”) from small pipes, bongs (portable versions of hookahs with A water chamber), paper-wrapped joints or tobacco-leaf-wrapped blunts, etc.
  • Cannabis tea, which contains relatively small conc. Of THC because THC is an oil (lipophilic) and is only slightly water-soluble (with A solubility of 2.8 mg per liter).
  • Cannabis is added as an ingredient to one of A variety of foods, including butter and baked goods. In india it is commonly made into A beverage, bhang.
  • Capsules, typically containing cannabis oil, and other dietary supplement products.

Substance prepare from cannabis:

  • Marijuana

Marijuana or marihuana (herbal cannabis), consists of the dried flowers and subtending leaves and stems of the female Cannabis plant. This is the most widely consumed form, containing 3% to 20% THC, with reports of up-to 33% THC.

  • Kief

Kief is a powder, rich in trichomes, which can be sifted from the leaves and flowers of cannabis plants and either consumed in powder form or compressed to produce cakes of hashish. The word “kif” derives from colloquial Arabic كيف kēf/kīf, meaning pleasure.

  • Hashish

Hashish (also spelled hasheesh, hashisha, or simply hash) is a conc. resin cake or ball produced from pressed kief, the detached trichomes and fine material that falls off cannabis flowers and leaves. or from scraping the resin from the surface of the plants and rolling it into balls. It varies in color from black to golden brown depending upon purity and variety of cultivar it was obtained from. It can be consumed orally or smoked, and is also vaporised, or ‘vaped’. The term “rosin hash” refers to a high quality solventless product obtained through heat and pressure.

  • Tincture of cannabis

Cannabinoids can be extracted from cannabis plant matter using high-proof spirits (often grain alcohol) to create a tincture, often referred to as “green dragon”. Nabiximols is a branded product name from a tincture manufacturing pharmaceutical company.

  • Hash oil

Hash oil is a resinous matrix of cannabinoids obtained from the Cannabis plant by solvent extraction, formed into a hardened or viscous mass. Hash oil can be the most potent of the main cannabis products because of its high level of psychoactive compound per its volume, which can vary depending on the plant’s mix of essential oils and psychoactive compounds.

Detection Of Cannabis In Body Fluids

  • THC and its major (inactive) metabolite, THC-COOH, can be measured in blood, urine, hair, oral fluid or sweat using chromatographic techniques as part of a drug use testing program or a forensic investigation of a traffic or other criminal offense.
  • Urine contains predominantly THC-COOH, while hair, oral fluid and sweat contain primarily THC. Blood may contain both substances, with the relative amounts dependent on the recency and extent of usage.
  • The concentrations obtained from such analyses can often be helpful in distinguishing active use from passive exposure, elapsed time since use, and extent or duration of use.
  • These tests cannot, however, distinguish authorized cannabis smoking for medical purposes from unauthorized recreational smoking.

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Matrices

By @forensicfield

Introduction (Matrix or Matrices)

📌Matrix or matrices is the material in animal or plant cells, in which more specialized structures are embedded, and a specific part of the mitochondrion.

📌Any material substance in the universe wherein the active constituent may be dispersed, accumulated, left, absorbed or chemically bound.

📌The internal structure of connective tissues is an extracellular matrix.

👉 Why are matrices use?

👉 Matrices use for the individual identification of the criminal or victim.

Matrices are classified in Three types:

  • Biological
  • Non- Biological Matrices
  • Viscera

Biological

  • Stomach Contents
  • Gastric Lavage
  • Intestinal Contents
  • Stool
  • Viscera
  • Brain Matter
  • Faecal Matter
  • Vomit
  • Urine
  • Saliva
  • Bone
  • Hair
  • Blood
  • Skin
  • Nails

Non- Biological Matrices

  • Water
  • Vegetables
  • Tea
  • Milk and milk products
  • Coffee
  • Food and Food products
  • Wines
  • Fruits
  • Drinks
  • Cereals 
  • Pulses
  • Cooked materials
  • Remnants or traces of poison in small container, etc.

Viscera

Internal Organs, such as:

  • Liver
  • Kidney
  • Stomach
  • Uterus
  • Heart
  • Lungs
  • Intestine
  • Gall bladder
  • Brain, etc.

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Actions and Administration of Poisons

By @forensicfield

INTRODUCTION

  • The action of all poison is almost same.
  • Commonly they either stop the supply of oxygen to the body tissues or inhibit the enzymes associated with the respiration mechanism and the person dies due to stoppage of oxygen availability.
  • The site of action is said to be at the myoneural junctions and synapses of the ganglions.
  • The mode of stoppage varies for example insecticides and pesticides are powerful inhibitors of cholinesterase.
  • In poisoning by insecticides and accumulates and results in hyper excitation of the voluntary and involuntary muscles.
  • A drop in the activity of cholinesterase to 3 percent of normal or lower is associated with toxic symptoms and leads to death resulting from respiratory failure or circulatory arrest.
  • In carbon monoxide poisoning, the gas having greater affinity combines easily with haemoglobin and make the unable to carry oxygen to various tissues of the body.
  • Opiates, alcohols, barbiturates, dhatura etc. paralyse the respiratory centers of the brain resulting in respiratory failure.
  • The glycosides poisons affect the heart muscles and the pumping of blood is stopped.

Action of Poison

The action of poison may be

  • Local Action
  • Remote Action
  • Local & Remote Actions
  • General Actions

Local Action

The local action means its direct action on the tissues and cause corrosion e.g. strong mineral acids and alkalis , irritation and inflammation in cantharides or some nervous effects as in the case of dilation of the pupil by atropine.

Remote Action

Remote action results from the absorption of the poison into the system e.g. alcohol, alkaloids or other drugs affect the organs after being absorbed into the system.

Local And Remote Actions

Some poisons produce both local and remote actions. In such cases, there is destructive action on the tissue with which they come in contact and there is also a toxic affect after absorption e.g. oxalic acid.

General Action

General action results when the absorbed poison evokes response from a wide variety of tissues beyond one or two systems e.g. arsenic, mercury insecticidal compounds etc.

Administration Of Poison

Most of the poison affects the person immediately, if not, the poison is eliminated from the body by excretions or gets metabolized or detoxified into non-toxic metabolite which is eliminated slowly.

Some poisons have tendency to get accumulated in the body tissues and when a fatal level is reached, the person dies.

Arsenic and DDT as among such poisons, which have been reportedly used as slow poison since ages for homicidal purposes.

The absorption of DDT through skin and accumulation behavior may result into accidental death.

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Forensic Toxicology (Poisoning)

By @forensicfield

INTRODUCTION

Poisons are substance that cause harm in living organism , such as; Human, animals and plants. This usually occurs because of the chemical reactions or other activity.

In forensics Poisons are commonly involved in homicidal, accidental, or suicidal cases.

CATEGORIES OF POISON

Poisoning is also categorized in 4 sub-category on the basis of their uses, activity and circumstances.

  • Accidental Poisoning
  • Homicidal Poisoning
  • Suicidal Poisoning
  • Miscellaneous Poisoning

Accidental Poisoning

The accidental poisoning commonly takes place as A result of the negligence and carelessness. The common accidental poisoning cases are:

A.) Coal is allowed to burn in A room giving rise to the production of poisonous carbon monoxide gas.

B.) There is A lots of cases of negligence, where workers go into untended well or gutters and die due to the presence of poisonous gases.

C.) Use of insecticides in large amount, many times may cause the death of farmers or workers due to the accidental inhalation.

D.) Overdose Of Medicines / Overdose Of Barbiturates / Duplicate Medicine

G.) Allergic Conditions.

H.) Bites By Poisonous Snakes And Insects.

I.) Accidental Cattle Or Animal Poisoning Cases.

Homicidal Poisoning

  • Tasteless and odorless properties.
  • Miscible with liquid.

Some poisons are mainly used for homicidal purposes, such as;

  • Arsenic Salts,
  • Mercury Salts,
  • Cyanides,
  • Sodium Nitrite,
  • Methyl Alcohol,
  • Dhatura Seeds,
  • Phosphides, etc.

In certain parts of the world, opium is used as infanticidal poison.

Suicidal Poisoning

Some poisons are mainly popular for suicidal purposes because of their common availability in house or the working place like;

  • Cyanide in electroplating units.
  • Insecticidal  compounds mostly available with farming communities.
  • Sodium nitrite in dyeing industries.
  • Barbiturates are normally used by the people.

By injecting anaesthetic agents like Thiopental.

Miscellaneous Poisoning

Cases of poisoning other than the explained before, are prevalent all over India which are caused by shocking agents. The intention behind this is to stupefy the person and commit robbery or other crimes.

However, many times person dies because of overdose. These poisons are;

Cigarettes containing Dhatura, Cannabis, drugs, arsenic etc.; sweets containing phenobarbitone or other psychotropic substances like lorazepam, etc.

Some times, chloral hydrate mixed with drinks is also similarly used.

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Factors Affecting The Intensity Of Poisoning

By @forensicfield

Introduction

The resultant of poisoning depends on many factors.

There are number of reasons which can affect intensity of poisoning are further explained, such as;

  • Dose.
  • Time of intake
  • Way of taking
  • Environmental factors, etc.

Dose

Amount of the poison is determine the affect of it on the body. Smaller the dose, lighter the effect and larger the dose, severe the effect.

Resistance

After doing continuous use of some drugs, such as opiates, tobacco, alcohol, etc. person develop a resistance towards some drugs.

Incompatible Combination of Drugs

Ingestion of some incompatible combination of Medicines may be fatal. Such As; Prozac and Tramadol, Thyroid medication and proton pump inhibitors, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and antihypertensive, etc.

Hypersensitivity

Some of persons show abnormal response (idiosyncrasy) to a drug like morphine, quinine, aspirin etc. due to inherent personal hypersensitivity.

Allergy

Some persons are allergic (acquired hypersensitivity) towards certain drugs like penicillin, sulpha, etc.

Incompatible Combinations

Ingestion of certain medications like anti – ulcerous gels with aspirin may lead to fatal effects.

Tolerance

People develop a marked tolerance in the case of opium, alcohol, strychnine, tobacco, arsenic and some other narcotic drugs by repeated and continued use.

Synergism

Some poisonous drugs can be toxic when taken together may cause lethal effect. Such as; Alcohol and Benzodiazepines, Heroine and Cocaine, Benzodiazepines and Opioids, Alcohol and Opioids

Slow Poisons

The continuous small amount of poison ingestion like arsenic, strychnine, lead, etc. accumulate in body and may cause death.

Conditions of The Body

  • Conditions of the body, i.e. age, health, etc. also affect the action of the poison.
  • Generally old persons, weaker persons and children severly affected by low dose of poison then young and healthy person.

Cumulative Action

The repeated small doses of cumulative poisons like arsenic, lead, mercury, strychnine, digitalis etc. may cause death or chronic poisoning by cumulative action.

Shock

Some times, a large dose of a poison acts differently from a small dose, for example; a large dose of arsenic may cause death by shock while a small dose results in diarrhoea.

Forms of Poison

  • Gases/Vapours Poisons
  • Liquid Poisons
  • Powder Poisons
  • Chemical Combination
  • Mechanical Combination

Gases / Vapours Poisons

These types of poison absorbed immediately and act quickly.

Liquid Poisons

These act better than solids.

Powder Poisons

Fine powdered poison act fast than coarse powdered poison.

Chemical Combination

Some substances in combination act like lethal, such as; acids and alkali’s, strychnine and tannic acid, etc.

Mechanical Combination

The action of a poison is altered when combined mechanically with inert substances, such as; when alkaloid when taken with charcoal, it does not act.

Methods Of Administration

A poison acts more rapidly when inhaled in gaseous form or when injected intravenously.

Next when inject intramuscularly or subcutaneously.

A poison acts slowly when swallowed or applied on skin.

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