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Clin Chem. 2013 Dec;59(12):1780-9. doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2013.207407. Epub 2013 Sep 17.

Cannabinoids in exhaled breath following controlled administration of smoked cannabis.

Author information

1
Chemistry and Drug Metabolism, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, MD;

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Δ(9)-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC (THCCOOH), and cannabinol (CBN) were measured in breath following controlled cannabis smoking to characterize the time course and windows of detection of breath cannabinoids.

METHODS:

Exhaled breath was collected from chronic (≥4 times per week) and occasional (<twice per week) smokers before and after smoking a 6.8% THC cigarette. Sample analysis included methanol extraction from breath pads, solid-phase extraction, and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry quantification.

RESULTS:

THC was the major cannabinoid in breath; no sample contained THCCOOH and only 1 contained CBN. Among chronic smokers (n = 13), all breath samples were positive for THC at 0.89 h, 76.9% at 1.38 h, and 53.8% at 2.38 h, and only 1 sample was positive at 4.2 h after smoking. Among occasional smokers (n = 11), 90.9% of breath samples were THC-positive at 0.95 h and 63.6% at 1.49 h. One occasional smoker had no detectable THC. Analyte recovery from breath pads by methanolic extraction was 84.2%-97.4%. Limits of quantification were 50 pg/pad for THC and CBN and 100 pg/pad for THCCOOH. Solid-phase extraction efficiency was 46.6%-52.1% (THC) and 76.3%-83.8% (THCCOOH, CBN). Matrix effects were -34.6% to 12.3%. Cannabinoids fortified onto breath pads were stable (≤18.2% concentration change) for 8 h at room temperature and -20°C storage for 6 months.

CONCLUSIONS:

Breath may offer an alternative matrix for identifying recent driving under the influence of cannabis, but currently sensitivity is limited to a short detection window (0.5-2 h).

PMID:
24046200
PMCID:
PMC4537523
DOI:
10.1373/clinchem.2013.207407
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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