• Article

Use of SPME-HS-GCMS for the Analysis of Herbal Products Containing Synthetic Cannabinoids

The increasing prevalence and use of herbal mixtures containing synthetic cannabinoids presents a growing public health concern and legal challenge for society. In contrast to the plant-derived cannabinoids in medical marijuana and other cannabinoid-based therapeutics, the commonly encountered synthetic cannabinoids in these mendaciously labeled products constitute a structurally diverse set of compounds of relatively unknown pharmacology and toxicology. Indeed, the use of these substances has been associated with an alarming number of hospitalizations and emergency room visits. Moreover, there are already several hundred known cannabinoid agonist compounds that could potentially be used for illicit purposes, posing an additional challenge for public health professionals and law enforcement efforts, which often require the detection and identification of the active ingredients for effective treatment or prosecution. A solid-phase microextraction headspace gas chromatographymass spectrometry method is shown here to allow for rapid and reliable detection and structural identification of many of the synthetic cannabinoid compounds that are currently or could potentially be used in herbal smoking mixtures. This approach provides accelerated analysis and results that distinguish between structural analogs within several classes of cannabinoid compounds, including positional isomers. The analytical results confirm the continued manufacture and distribution of herbal materials with synthetic cannabinoids and provide insight into the manipulation of these products to avoid legal constraints and prosecution


Cox, A. OB., Daw, R. C., Mason, M. D., Grabenauer, M., Pande, P., Davis, K., ... Huffman, J. (2012). Use of SPME-HS-GCMS for the Analysis of Herbal Products Containing Synthetic Cannabinoids. Journal of Analytical Toxicology, 36(5), 293-302. https://doi.org/10.1093/jat/bks025

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