State v. Dobbs, 208 N.C. App. 272 (Dec. 7, 2010)

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss a charge of trafficking by sale or delivery in more than four grams and less than fourteen grams of Dihydrocodeinone when the State’s expert sufficiently identified the substance at issue as a controlled substance. Special Agent Aharon testified as an expert in chemical analysis. She compared the eight tablets at issue with information contained in a pharmaceutical database and found that each was similar in coloration and had an identical pharmaceutical imprint; the pharmaceutical database indicated that the tablets consisted of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Agent Aharon performed a confirmatory test on one of the tablets, using a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer. This test revealed that the tablet was an opiate derivative. The tablets weighed a total of 8.5 grams. Relying on State v. Ward, 364 N.C. 133 (2010), the defendant argued that because the State cannot rely upon a visual inspection to identify a substance as a controlled substance, the State was required to test a sufficient number of pills to reach the minimum weight threshold for a trafficking offense. The court concluded that even if the issue had been properly preserved, the defendant’s argument was without merit, citing State v. Myers, 61 N.C. App. 554, 556 (1983) (a chemical analysis test of a portion of pills, coupled with a visual inspection of the rest for consistency, supported a conviction for trafficking in 10,000 or more tablets of methaqualone).