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High-Quality Analysis of Pesticides Found in Cannabis

Published: Jul 06, 2017   

Credit Restek

Over 20 states in the U.S. have legalized the use of recreational or medical cannabis because of therapeutic benefits for ailments such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and ALS. Dosing methods include smoking or vaporizing and baked goods. Unlike other prescribed medicines regulated by U.S. FDA, marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug and is illegal on the federal level. As a result, medical cannabis patients have no safety assurances for their medication, which could contain harmful levels of pesticide residues. Currently, medical marijuana pesticide residue analysis methods are poorly defined and challenging to develop due to matrix complexity and a long list of potential target analytes.

In order to address matrix complexity, we combined a simple QuEChERS extraction approach with cartridge SPE (cSPE) cleanup, followed by GCxGC-TOFMS. Acceptable recoveries were obtained for most pesticides, and incurred pesticide residues were detected in some of the illicit marijuana samples used for method development. QuEChERS Extraction Saves Time and Reduces Hazardous Solvent Use Trace residue extraction procedures from dry materials like medical cannabis typically involve large amounts of solvent, long extraction times, and tedious concentration steps similar to the Soxhlet procedure or multiresidue methods from the Pesticide Analytical Manual. QuEChERS, with its simple 10 mL acetonitrile shake extraction and extract partitioning with salts and centrifugation, offers time savings, glassware use reduction, and lower solvent consumption.

Key Learning Objectives:

•Quickly and effectively extract medical marijuana samples for pesticide analysis.

• Cartridge SPE cleanup of dirty extracts improves GC inlet and column lifetimes.

• Selective GC columns increase accuracy of pesticide determinations for complex samples.

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