This article presents findings related to a study that focused on developing validated protocols to detect and quantify cannabinoids in various edibles.
Traditional methods for detecting and quantifying cannabinoids in Cannabis sativa materials are most often chromatography-based, and they generally require extensive sample preparation protocols to render materials into a form that can be injected into the systems without the risk of contaminating or damaging the equipment. This challenge is amplified when interrogating the increasingly broad range of matrix types that cannabinoids are infused within, such as edibles that also contain sugars, fats, lipids, and carbohydrates. The requisite application of highly nuanced methods that must be developed for each matrix type is, in addition to being resource-intensive and time-consuming, highly impractical and unsustainable for crime laboratories endeavoring to perform such analyses in a routine manner, since they are often under-resourced while typically also confronting sample testing backlogs. A key to resolving this issue is to identify an analysis approach that avoids the requirement for nuanced method development by being applicable to a broader range of matrix types. Ambient ionization mass spectrometry (AIMS) methods have shown great promise in their ability to rapidly interrogate samples. Therefore, this study focused on developing validated protocols using AIMS (specifically, direct analysis in real time-high-resolution mass spectrometry, or DART-HRMS) to detect and quantify Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) in edible matrices. Calibration curves were developed using deuterated counterparts of THC and CBD as internal standards. Following the use of high cannabinoid recovery rate extraction protocols for chocolates and gelatin-based fruit candies or “gummies”, the DART-HRMS approach was applied to quantify cannabinoid levels in commercially available cannabinoid-infused candies, yielding results similar to those reported on the product labels. Importantly, the developed method circumvented challenges encountered using traditional approaches. As the Cannabis field continues to evolve and new matrix types emerge on the market, the DART-HRMS detection and quantification protocols can be readily applied without the need for major procedural adaptations. (Published Abstract Provided)