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Up in smoke: Burning is often used to destroy unneeded drug evidence, but methods, rules vary

Destroying Drug Evidence-1.jpg

FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2014 file photo, Ohio Highway Patrol Lt. Anne Ralston stands in a storage area for boxes of drugs already tested by the Patrol's crime lab in Columbus, Ohio. For years, Ohio troopers destroyed thousands of pounds of seized drugs for free at factories where the containers were placed into molten steel and disintegrated. That practice has become less tenable over time as companies worried about emissions and environmental concerns and whether the process might skew employee drug tests. (AP Photo/Kantele Franko, File) (The Associated Press)

Law enforcement agencies around the country seize and store cocaine, marijuana and other illegal drugs as evidence and then face a sometimes tricky task: How do you get rid of it all?

Authorities often use incineration, but they say where and how varies and can be difficult to arrange. They say it's been done at hospital or government incinerators, crematories, foundries, specialized businesses or even in burn barrels.

The applicable local regulations vary from place to place, leaving it up to evidence managers to figure out what is permitted in their areas.

For years, Ohio's highway patrol destroyed seized drugs for free at factories where the containers were placed into molten steel and disintegrated. To have a reliable drug destroyer, troopers switched last year to using a paid contractor.

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