Mass Spectrometry Center

Cannabis Testing

As medicinal and recreational cannabis markets continue to grow, global demands for cannabis testing keep rising. The cannabis industry must ensure product quality, regulatory compliance and safety. The Western Illinois Mass Spec Center sincerely invites the cannabis industry in the Illinois state for collaboration in cannabis-testing solutions, from accurate potency testing and terpene profiling to contaminant testing for residual solvents, pesticides, and mycotoxins.

Accurate Measurement of Δ9-THC and Δ9-THCA-A

In December 2019, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has funded Dr. Liguo Song $160,181 to validate a LC-DAD-ESI/MS/MS method for the accurate measurement of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinoid (THC) and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid A (THCA-A) among twenty cannabinoids in various products of Cannabis over a two-years period from January 2021 to December 2022 (Award #: 2020-DQ-BX-0021). 

Currently, there is an urgent need of validated methods to measure the total Δ9-THC concentration in various products of Cannabis by the crime laboratories because the currently available GC-MS method is unable to directly measure the precursor of Δ9-THC, i.e. Δ9-THCA-A, due to its nonquantitative thermal decomposition under GC-MS conditions. Conversely, many LC-DAD and LC-ESI/MS/MS methods have been published lately, because the LC separation can avoid thermal stress so that acidic cannabinoids can be directly analyzed. However, drawbacks of these methods include limited applicability, insufficient selectivity, flawed recovery experiments, and rare consideration of matrix effect. This project seeks to validate a LC-DAD-ESI/MS/MS method, which is based on our recently developed LC-ESI/MS/MS method for the simultaneous measurement of 20 cannabinoids in dried hemp flowers, for the accurate measurement of Δ9-THC and Δ9-THCA-A among 20 cannabinoids in a wide variety of Cannabis products such as dried flowers, concentrates, edibles and topical, a total of 68 different types of sample, with key characteristics including broad applicability, maximum selectivity, novel and specially designed recovery experiments, and best consideration of matrix effect. The method will be easily adopted by crime laboratories with different instrumentation because it will be easily dissected after our comprehensive study, e.g. a LC-UV method using a traditional UV detection, a LC-ESI/MS method using a single quadrupole, or a LC-ESI/MS/MS method using a triple quadrupole.