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Emerging Trends in Synthetic Drugs Workshop

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in collaboration with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) hosted a free two-day workshop and live webcast exploring emerging trends in the forensic analysis of synthetic cannabinoids, substituted cathinones, and novel hallucinogens.

Emerging Trends in Synthetic Drugs Final Agenda

Speaker Bios

Latest Workshop Announcements

Presentation Slides

Day 1 Printable Slides PDF (34 Pages – 6 slides per page – 13 MBs)

Day 2 Printable Slides PDF (47 Pages - 6 slides per page – 20 MBs)

The increasing popularity of new age designer drugs across the country is presenting a growing challenge for law enforcement agencies. The ability to sell these designer drugs in legal storefronts as unregulated substances presents a significant problem. As federal, state and local governments attempt to control these synthetic drugs, criminals are able to circumvent legislation by creating new compounds that are not controlled. The analytical techniques used to identify specific compounds may not be uniform across the country. There are potential analytical pitfalls that laboratories should be made aware of when attempting to distinguish specific compounds.

The goal of this free workshop was to discuss and present the emerging trends seen by federal, state and local crime laboratories on synthetic drugs. The information provided will increase the situational awareness of crime labs across the United States about early trends, availability of resources, protocols used for the characterization process, and legislative efforts. Various analytical techniques used to characterize/identify compounds of interest were presented. 


  • Provide an updated timeline of the federal government's activities to regulate these chemicals
  • Discuss the latest types of synthetic drugs being seen in various regions of the United States
  • Discuss the availability of physical standards for emerging synthetic drugs
  • Discuss collaborative activities occurring to enhance the use of databases
  • Provide latest research occurring in the synthetic drug analysis arena (i.e. color tests)
  • Discuss analytical pitfalls encountered during drug analysis and interpretation

Workshop presenters and attendees were forensic chemists, researchers, measurement science experts, statisticians, law enforcement stakeholders, policy makers, and industry representatives.

Live Webcast Minimum Technical Requirements:

The workshop was webcast live and is available for playback>>

Hardware and operating system configurations

  • Windows XP (Internet Explorer or Firefox)
  • Windows Vista (Internet Explorer or Firefox)
  • Windows 7 (Internet Explorer or Firefox)
  • Apple Mac OS 10.5x (Firefox or Safari)
  • Ubuntu Linux (Firefox only)

Media players

In order to access the event, you must have, at a miniumum, Flash Player 10.x installed on your computer.
Please visit: to download the Flash Player.

Internet browsers

In order to access the event, you must have either Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0+ or Mozilla Firefox 3+ browser for Windows operating systems. For accessing events via Mac operating systems you must have Mozilla Firefox 3+ or Safari 4.x.

Planning Team:
This conference was designed by a small planning team which includes representatives from NIST, DEA, and a local crime laboratory.


Synthetic Cathinones and Related ‐ Toxicology

Holiday Inn Gaithersburg

Two Montgomery Village Avenue  

Gaithersburg, MD


Room Block: Forensics-Drug


If you are not registered, you will not be allowed on site.  

Registered attendees will receive security and campus instructions prior to the workshop.  

All foreign national visitors who do not have permanent resident status and who wish to register for the above meeting must supply additional information. Failure to provide this information prior to arrival will result, at a minimum, in significant delays (up to 24 hours) in entering the facility. Authority to gather this information is derived from United States Department of Commerce Department Administrative Order (DAO) number 207-12. When registration is open, the required NIST-1260 form will be available as well.

Created February 5, 2013, Updated May 13, 2016