Journal Article

Detection of Δ<sup>9</sup>-Tetrahydrocannabinol in Exhaled Breath Collected from Cannabis Users

Olof Beck, Sören Sandqvist, Ilse Dubbelboer and Johan Franck

in Journal of Analytical Toxicology

Volume 35, issue 8, pages 541-544
Published in print October 2011 | ISSN: 0146-4760
Published online October 2011 | e-ISSN: 1945-2403 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/anatox/35.8.541
Detection of Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol in Exhaled Breath Collected from Cannabis Users

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Exhaled breath has recently been proposed as a new possible matrix for drugs of abuse testing. A key drug is cannabis, and the present study was aimed at investigating the possibility of detecting tetrahydrocannabinol and tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid in exhaled breath after cannabis smoking. Exhaled breath was sampled from 10 regular cannabis users and 8 controls by directing the exhaled breath by suction through an Empore C18 disk. The disk was extracted with hexane/ethyl acetate, and the resulting extract was evaporated to dryness and redissolved in 100 µL hexane/ethyl acetate. A 3-µL aliquot was injected onto the LC-MS-MS system and analyzed using positive electrospray ionization and selected reaction monitoring. In samples collected 1–12 h after cannabis smoking, tetrahydrocannabinol was detected in all 10 subjects. The rate of excretion was between 9.0 and 77.3 pg/min. Identification of tetrahydrocannabinol was based on correct retention time relative to tetrahydrocannabinol-d3 and correct product ion ratio. In three samples, peaks were observed for tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid, but these did not fulfill identification criteria. Neither tetrahydrocannabinol or tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid was detected in the controls. These results confirm older reports that tetrahydrocannabinol is present in exhaled breath following cannabis smoking and extend the detection time from minutes to hours. The results further support the idea that exhaled breath is a promising matrix for drugs-of-abuse testing.

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Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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