Extensive phytocannabinoid profiles of seized cannabis and cannabis-based medicines – Identification of potential distinguishing markers
As the frequency of cannabis-based therapy increases, the ability to distinguish intake of cannabis-based medicines from recreational cannabis use becomes desirable. Minor cannabinoids have been suggested to indicate recreational cannabis use in biological matrices but are unreliable when presumably also present in directly plantderived medicines. Thus, for therapeutics such as medical cannabis, Sativex® and Dronabinol, a more thorough investigation of cannabinoid profiles is required to identify possible distinguishing markers. In this study, 16 phytocannabinoids were quantified in samples of seized and medical cannabis, Sativex® and Dronabinol from two different manufacturers, using a validated LC-MS/MS method. Analytes included delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol, tetrahydocannabinolic acid A, cannabidiol, cannabidiolic acid, cannabigerol, cannabigerolic acid, cannabinol, cannabinolic acid, cannabichromene, cannabichromenic acid, cannabicyclol, cannabicyclolic acid, tetrahydrocannabivarin, tetrahydrocannabivarinic acid, cannabidivarin and cannabidivarinic acid. Resultant cannabinoid profiles were compared, and markers were suggested. Characteristics of Sativex® included a specific cannabidiol/tetrahydrocannabinol ratio and presence of cannabichromene, while acidic cannabinoids, cannabigerol and cannabinol occurred in only low amounts. As expected, the predominant ingredient in Dronabinol was tetrahydrocannabinol, but minor cannabinoids were quantified as well. Medical marihuana and seized cannabis were compared separately in a principal component analysis. Several medical marihuana varieties were found to significantly differ from seized cannabis, mostly regarding contents of tetrahydocannabinolic acid A and tetrahydrocannabivarinic acid and cannabidiolic and cannabidivarinic acid respectively.
Keywords: Cannabinoids; Cannabis; Dronabinol; LC-MS/MS; Principal component analysis; Sativex.