Current Trends in Seized Drug Analysis Symposium
May 06 2022 - May 10 2022
Law enforcement agencies are responsible for monitoring and identifying drugs and other substances that are considered controlled substances by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). With the emergence of new psychoactive compounds (NPS), synthetic cannabinoids and fentanyl analogs, the need for accurate and sensitive analytical techniques is crucial for identifying classes of compounds. Shimadzu offers a series of analytical techniques including FTIR, HPLC, GC, GC-MS and LC-MS/MS for drug identification.
When it comes to the analysis of seized drug samples, each laboratory is responsible for properly analyzing a material as it pertains to a court of law and prosecution. Materials can come in a variety of forms, such as powder, pills, tablets, e-liquids, oils and even edibles. The Scientific Working Group for the Analysis of Seized Drugs (SWGDRUG) and the Organization for Scientific Committees (OSAC) for Forensic Science provide the minimum requirements for the development of an analytical scheme for proper identification of a drug or chemical. Shimadzu offers a series of analytical tools for a forensic chemist to accurately identify and confirm a controlled substance based on levels of selectivity.
The cannabis/hemp market continues to grow each year with more states legalizing recreational marijuana, as well as the 2018 Farm Bill removing hemp from the controlled substance list. This bill also defines that any cannabis sativa L. strain with a total tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of 0.3% or less can be considered hemp and not cannabis. Due to this definition, there is an even higher demand to differentiate hemp from cannabis by determining the correct concentration of THC.
Analytical Techniques: LCMS
Shimadzu’s Cannabis and Hemp Analyzers are the comprehensive solutions for cannabinoids analysis. Integrating instrument hardware, three proven HPLC methods, certiﬁed standards and all supplies, these packages are designed for accurate results with minimal effort. A 3-year warranty and preventative maintenance plan ensures trouble-free use and maximum up-time.
Analytical Techniques: HPLC
The Scientific Working Group for the Analysis of Seized Drugs (SWGDRUG) requires the use of multiple identification techniques when analyzing drug samples. These techniques are divided into three categories based on their discriminating power. This reference poster highlights the differences between the three categories and the techniques. (Please reference SWGDRUG recommendations Version 7.1 Part IIIB for more details at www.swgdrug.org)
The use of illicit drugs continues to be an epidemic across the United States. Currently most laboratories require the use of a GC or GCMS system and a cumbersome derivatization step to analyze seized drugs. By utilizing a LCMS method, faster detection rates and a larger drug panel could be screened simultaneously. The need for a derivatization step could also be avoided.
In this extended study, an LC-MS method of quantitation and simultaneous SID was developed using the LCMS-2020 single quadrupole MS with an integrated LC front end (LC 2040C 3D) for the quantification of 16 cannabinoids, including Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), Δ8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8-THC), cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), cannabicyclol (CBL) and their respective acidic forms, etc. Selected ion monitoring (SIM) was used for quantitation, simultaneous positive and negative scans were used for identification.
Vaping illnesses have been a growing concern for the CDC with over 2,000 known cases and 39 confirmed deaths so far (CDC – November 2019). It is unclear what is causing the illnesses, but vitamin E acetate has been identified as a possible contributor. Vitamin E acetate has been found in the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid for all currently tested samples by the CDC (CDC – November 2019). Two methods have been developed using photodiode array detection (PDA) to separate three isomers of tocopherol (vitamin E): alpha-tocopherol acetate, alpha-tocopherol, and gamma-tocopherol.
The following method application is driven by the potential terpenes interferences with THC quantitation when analyzing fortified Cannabis products on an HPLC system with a UV or PDA detector. Generally, terpene interference is not a problem as naturally occurring terpenoid content does not exceed 0.2% of the total and terpenes are lost in the baseline under the currently run gradient conditions with HPLC-UV or UHPLC-PDA. However, a sample that has been fortified with excess terpene content may face co-elution issues of the terpenes with individual cannabinoids because the terpenes are also quite hydrophobic and exhibit similar retention on the column as the cannabinoids.