Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2020, $434,273)
According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, cannabis is the third most commonly used psychoactive substance in the United States (after ethanol and nicotine). Recent years have seen an explosion in the legalized use of cannabis in various physical and pharmacological forms, in particular certain preparations used for their potential beneficial medical effects. This expanded use has also led to heightened concern about increasing incidence of adverse effects among users, most importantly behavioral impacts that may lead to impairment.
Cannabis contains more than 100 cannabinoids, of which only a minority have been assessed as potential exposure biomarkers in conventional sample matrices. Compared to traditional matrices, exhaled breath condensate (EBC) and oral fluid (OF) offer advantages as noninvasive alternatives for cannabis exposure assessment. Assessment of exposure and its correlation with impairment is critical to the appraisal of subjects under suspicion of drunk or drugged driving (DWI/DUID) and in other legal and forensic situations. There is a critical need in forensic, clinical, and behavioral toxicology for easily sampled biomarkers that can reliably determine the recent time-course and historical pattern of cannabis use, the type of cannabis used, and, ultimately, their correlation with impairment or adverse health effects. This project will establish a cohort of 300 adult cannabis users and nonuser controls with well-characterized cannabis exposure profiles. Participants will provide samples of EBC, OF, and urine and will be administered a questionnaire to ascertain details on cannabis use. Participants will be sub-categorized by temporal pattern of use, time of last use, route of intake, and type of cannabis used. Analytical methods to determine 25 cannabinoids and metabolites in EBC and OF at low ng/mL concentrations will be developed. High sensitivity and selectivity for individual analytes will be achieved using a targeted LC-QqQ-MS/MS approach. Data will be analyzed by multivariate data mining approaches to identify individual or groupings of cannabinoid analytes that can represent reliable biomarkers of time-frame and type of cannabis use.
The project is facilitated by the availability of collaborating researchers with extensive experience in cannabis exposure and impairment studies. Data dissemination for this project will include interim and final progress reports, publications and presentations at relevant national and international forensic conferences, and published peer-reviewed research articles. Successful project completion will provide reliable cannabis exposure biomarkers to facilitate future research to correlate cognitive, behavioral, and self-reported deficits with EBC and OF cannabinoid markers. Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law, and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14). CA/NCF