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Journal Article


Moosmann B, Roth N, Hastedt M, Jacobsen-Bauer A, Pragst F, Auwärter V. Drug Test. Anal. 2014; 7(5): 349-357.


Institute of Forensic Medicine, Forensic Toxicology Department, University Medical Center Freiburg, Albertstraße 9, 79104, Freiburg, Germany; Hermann Staudinger Graduate School, University of Freiburg, Hebelstraße 27, 79104, Freiburg, Germany.


(Copyright © 2014, John Wiley and Sons)






Hair analysis for drugs and drugs of abuse is increasingly applied in child protection cases. To determine the potential risk to a child living in a household where drugs are consumed, not only can the hair of the parents be analyzed but also the hair of the child. In the case of hair analysis for cannabinoids, the differentiation between external contamination and systemic uptake is particularly difficult, since the drug is quite often handled extensively prior to consumption (e.g. when preparing a joint) and smoke causes a further risk for an external contamination. Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid A (THCA-A), the non-psychoactive biogenetic precursor of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is a suitable marker for external contamination since it is not incorporated into the hair matrix through the bloodstream in relevant amounts. In the presented study, hair samples from 41 children, 4 teenagers, and 34 drug-consuming parents were analyzed for THCA-A, THC and cannabinol (CBN) applying methanolic extraction and a fully validated liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method (Method 1). For comparison, a part of the samples was also analyzed applying alkaline hydrolysis followed by liquid/liquid extraction and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-M)S (Method 2), or by headspace-solid phase microextraction-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (HS-SPME-GC-MS) (Method 3). Furthermore, 458 seized marihuana samples and 180 seized hashish samples were analyzed for the same cannabinoids by gas-chromatography-flame ionization detector (GC-FID). In all but one of the hair samples, the concentration of THCA-A was higher than the concentration of THC and in 14 cases no THC could be detected despite the presence of THCA-A, suggesting that in almost all cases a significant external contamination had occurred. Within-family comparison showed a higher THCA-A/THC ratio in hair of children than of their consuming caregivers. Mean and median of this ratio of all hair samples (6.7 and 4.2) were between those of marihuana (11.0 and 8.3) and hashish (2.8 and 2.1) with a large variation in all samples. Comparison of the Methods 1 to 3 showed clearly that the choice of the analytical procedure has a strong influence on the quantitative results, mainly because of decarboxylation of THCA-A during hair hydrolysis by NaOH and other analytical steps, which lead to artifactually elevated THC concentrations. In conclusion, these findings suggest that the major part of the cannabinoids detected in the hair samples from children arose from an external contamination through 'passive' transfer by e.g. contaminated hands or surfaces and not from inhalation or deposition of side stream smoke. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Language: en


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