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DART-HRMS as a triage approach for the rapid analysis of cannabinoid-infused edible matrices, personal-care products and Cannabis sativa hemp plant material

NCJ Number
Forensic Chemistry Volume: 27 Dated: March 2022
Date Published
March 2022
37 pages

This study examined the use of high-resolution mass spectrometry (DART-HRMS) for rapid detection of cannabinoids in complex matrices.


In this study, the ambient ionization technique direct analysis in real time – high-resolution mass spectrometry (DART-HRMS) – was used for the rapid detection of cannabinoids in complex matrices. With no sample pretreatment or lengthy data processing, this approach provides a method that complements confirmatory testing for the rapid triage of complex plant materials, personal-care products, and edible matrices for cannabinoids prior to launching confirmatory tests, saving crime laboratories time and resources. This method accommodates a broad range of materials, and it is demonstrated that cannabinoids can be readily detected regardless of the matrix type. Forensic laboratories use traditional methods such LC-MS and GC–MS for determining if evidence is derived from Cannabis sativa or infused with cannabinoids. These approaches require sample pretreatment steps to render samples into a form suitable for analysis by these techniques, which can be time-consuming and resource-intensive, particularly for complex matrices such as edibles. Furthermore, there is no universal method for the analysis and quantification of cannabinoids in edibles, which is in part due to the ever-evolving range of products into which cannabinoids are infused. A variety of cannabinoid-infused samples were analyzed, including hemp (the non-psychoactive variety of C. sativa), commercial personal-care products, edible certified reference materials (CRMs), and edibles prepared in-house using cannabinoid analytical standards (i.e., THC and CBD). The absence or presence of cannabinoids within these samples, which are challenging to analyze by traditional methods, was determined within a matter of seconds by simply presenting bulk material to the DART gas stream for analysis.

Date Published: March 1, 2022