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Long-term Stability of Synthetic Cannabinoids in Biological Matrices

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2020
39 pages

This is the Final Summary Report on the methodology and findings of a research project with the objective of providing the forensic community with a comprehensive investigation of synthetic cannabinoids of different core structures and their major metabolites regarding their short-term and long-term stability in both urine and whole blood; and a secondary objective was to provide laboratories with efficient extraction and analytical methods for synthetic cannabinoids and metabolites.


The project validated two liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) methods for the quantitative identification of 29 synthetic cannabinoids and 25 synthetic cannabinoid metabolites. Boston University validated 17 synthetic cannabinoids in blood (Group 1a) and 10 metabolites in urine (Group 2a). RTI International validated 12 synthetic cannabinoids in blood (Group 1b and 15 metabolites in urine (Group 2b). UR144 and XLR11 in blood and UR144 5-hydroxypentyl and AB-FUBINACA M2A metabolites in urine were validated at both institutions in evaluating stability for an interlaboratory comparison. Research results address several of the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) Technology Working Group's operational requirements for scientific research, technology development, policy or protocol development, assessment and evaluation, and the dissemination and/or training of specific research. Analytical and extraction methods have been publicized to the forensic community through presentations at various conferences. This research also informed the forensic community of appropriate collection and handling protocols for samples that contain or are suspected of containing synthetic cannabinoids. This information will be useful in the future for new compounds that result from minor modifications that produce new structural analogs. Extensive tables and figures

Date Published: April 1, 2020