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Giorgetti A, Fais P, Pascali JP, Mohamed S, Rossi F, Garagnani M, Pelletti G. Drug Test. Anal. 2023; ePub(ePub): ePub.


(Copyright © 2023, John Wiley and Sons)






External contamination of hair by cannabis smoking requires a careful evaluation in forensic toxicology. Medical and recreational cannabis are increasingly consumed by e-cigarettes, which give rise to side-stream vapor. Moreover, products containing low Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) and rich in cannabidiol (CBD) started spreading legally. The goal of the present study was to assess whether hair analysis could allow to distinguish the type of delivered product, with low or high Δ9-THC, and the delivering mode, by smoking or vaping. Contamination of blank hair was mimicked by in vitro exposure to low- (0.4%) and high-Δ9-THC (9.7%) products delivered by smoking and vaping within a small confined system. Cannabis vaping extracts were prepared to deliver identical target Δ9-THC doses. Eighty samples were analyzed by ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography mass spectrometry and quantified for Δ9-THC and CBD. After contamination by cannabis smoking, THC levels were in line with past in vitro and in vivo studies. Samples exposed to cannabis (169.30 ng/mg) showed significantly higher Δ9-THC than hair exposed to "light cannabis" (35.54 ng/mg), and the opposite was seen for the CBD/Δ9-THC ratio. Hair contaminated by vaping or smoking did not show a statistically different Δ9-THC content. Under our in vitro conditions, hair analysis might allow to discriminate whether external contamination is determined by products containing low or high Δ9-THC, but not the delivering mode. More research is needed in real-life conditions, to see whether the same also applies to the interpretation of forensic casework.

Language: en


marijuana; vaping; drug contamination; hair analysis; UHPLC-MS/MS


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