MSACL 2018 US Abstract

Topic: Cannabinoids

Detection and Levels of Cannabinoids in Whole Blood and Oral Fluid After Recent Marijuana Inhalation

Jacqueline Hubbard (Presenter)
University of California, San Diego

Bio: Jacqueline Hubbard graduated from the University of Vermont in 2010 with a B.S. in Biochemistry and a minor in Pharmacology. She then enrolled in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program at the University of California, Riverside where she earned my M.S. and Ph.D in the laboratory of Devin Binder, M.D., Ph.D. After completing a one year postdoctoral position in the same laboratory, she took a position as a Clinical Chemistry Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, San Diego. She now works in the Toxicology lab under the supervision of Robert Fitzgerald, Ph.D., D.A.B.C.C.

Authorship: Jacqueline A. Hubbard, Ph.D. (1), Philip Sobolesky, Ph.D. (1), Breland Smith, Ph.D. (2), Robert L. Fitzgerald, Ph.D., D.A.B.C.C. (1)
(1) University of California, San Diego, CA (2) InSource Diagnostics, Monrovia, CA

Short Abstract

Marijuana use is growing in popularity in the United States due to it being legalized in several states and U.S. territories. This has raised concerns regarding the impact of marijuana on driving performance. Therefore, it is critical to have ways to accurately measure levels of cannabinoids. Using liquid chromatography- tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), levels of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, and several of its metabolites were measured in whole blood (WB) and oral fluid (OF) after recent cannabis inhalation. In this presentation, preliminary data on the detection and levels of cannabinoids observed in WB and OF will be discussed. Both the utility and limitations of confirming recent marijuana use through cannabinoid monitoring with LC-MS/MS will be conveyed.

Long Abstract


There is an ongoing debate over the efficacy and safety of marijuana, one of the most commonly abused drugs today. It has potential therapeutic benefits, most notably analgesia in pain management. However, the recreational use of marijuana is increasing in popularity due to its recent legalization in several states and U.S. territories. Thus far, 29 states and Washington D.C. have some form of legalized medical marijuana while 8 states, Washington D.C., and several U.S. territories have legalized recreational use. A major concern of marijuana use are the adverse effects, including cognitive impairment and psychosis. Growing evidence has suggested that the use of marijuana can impair driving abilities, including delayed reaction time, increased weaving within a lane, and poor performance on divided attention tasks. Therefore, it is critical to have a way to measure levels of cannabinoids in different bodily fluids.


Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) was used to measure Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and several of its metabolites in whole blood (WB) and oral fluid (OF) after recent THC inhalation. Briefly, WB and OF samples were collected at periodic intervals shortly after smoking either placebo or cannabis cigarettes. Whole blood was spiked with internal standard, cannabinoids were precipitated out with a solution containing acetonitrile and formic acid, and diluted preparations underwent solid phase extraction (SPE). OF was collected using a Quantisal device and samples were spiked with internal standard, acidified with phosphoric acid, and concentrated using SPE. Samples were then evaporated, reconstituted, and injected onto an UPLC column for LC-MS/MS analysis using electrospray ionization and multiple reaction monitoring.


The compounds studied includ THC, cannabinol (CBN), cannabidiol (CBD), 11-hydroxy-THC (THC-OH), (±)-11-nor-9-carboxy-Δ9-THC (THC-COOH), (+)-11-nor-Δ9-THC-9-carboxylic acid glucuronide (THC-COOH-gluc), cannabigerol (CBG), and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THC-V). Preliminary data on the both the detection and expected levels of these metabolites in WB and OF at various time points after THC inhalation will be presented.

Conclusions & Discussion

Both the utility and limitations of tracking recent marijuana use through cannabinoid monitoring with LC-MS/MS will be conveyed.

References & Acknowledgements:

Financial Disclosure

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