In Algeria, large quantities of hashish are seized every year. This study aimed to investigate the total content of major cannabinoids in the illicit seized hashish in Algeria over an 8-year period (2011-2018) in order to establish the chemical profile of North African hashish. A total of 3265 hashish samples were analyzed using a validated high-performance liquid chromatography-diode array detection (HPLC-DAD) method, allowing the simultaneous quantification of both the acidic and the neutral forms of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and cannabinol (CBN). The results revealed a slight upward trend in the mean THC content, from 7.0% in 2011 to 9.4% in 2018, with an overall mean value of 8.4%. The overall means of CBD and CBN content were 3.5% and 0.8%, respectively. The number of high-potency hashish samples gradually increased to reach 6% in 2018. Two distinct hashish chemotypes were identified: the highly populated chemotype II, corresponding to the traditional medium-potency hashish ([THC + CBN]/CBD ~ 2.16), and chemotype I, containing hashish samples of relatively high THC levels and low levels of CBD (ratio ~ 4.90). Both chemotypes I and II were characterized in the ternary plot, and the proportions (THC:CBD:CBN) were about 85%:13%:2% and 60%:35%:5%, respectively.
Keywords: North African hashish; cannabidiol; cannabinol; cannabis; criminalistics; forensic science; high-performance liquid chromatography-diode array detection; potency; Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol.
© 2020 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.
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