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DART-HRMS triage approach part 2 – Application to the detection of cannabinoids and terpenes in recreational Cannabis products

NCJ Number
Forensic Chemistry Volume: 33 Issue: 100469 Dated: May 2023
Megan I. Chambers; Rabi A. Musah
Date Published
May 2023

Since the ambient ionization mass spectrometric technique termed “direct analysis in real time – high-resolution mass spectrometry” (DART-HRMS) has been previously utilized to investigate the presence of cannabinoids in complex matrices such as personal-care products, edibles prepared in-house, certified reference materials, and hemp plant material (the non-psychoactive variety of Cannabis sativa), in the current study, this proof-of-concept was applied to commercially available retail Cannabis-derived products from a recreational Cannabis dispensary.


Among the retail products analyzed by DART-HRMS were edibles, concentrates, tinctures, topicals, vaporizers, marijuana flower, and pre-rolls comprised of marijuana plant material. Regardless of the type and complexity of the matrix, direct analysis of these materials in their native form readily revealed, as a function of either positive- or negative-ion mode, a range of cannabinoid acids, neutral cannabinoids, and terpenes, including CBGA (nominal m/z 361 and 359), THC/CBD (nominal m/z 315 and 313), CBN (nominal m/z 311 and 309), and eucalyptol (nominal m/z 155 and 153), respectively. This was accomplished without any sample preparation steps and permitted avoidance of some of the difficulties typically encountered when utilizing traditional chromatographic approaches for the analysis of cannabinoids in complex matrices. The rapidly obtained chemical information furnished by this approach facilitates assessment of whether further confirmatory testing should be performed, and if so, of what type, thereby avoiding indiscriminate performance of time-consuming and resource-intensive confirmatory testing of all samples. (Published abstract provided)