UNODC Identification and Analysis of Cannabis

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Recommended methods for the identification and analysis of cannabis and cannabis products

Manual for use by national drug analysis laboratories

Photo credits: UNODC Photo Library; UNODC/Ioulia Kondratovitch; Alessandro Scotti.

Laboratory and Scientific Section United nationS office on drUgS and crime Vienna

Recommended Methods for the Identification and Analysis of Cannabis and Cannabis Products(Revised and updated)MANUAL FOR USE BY NATIONAL DRUG ANALYSIS LABORATORIES

UNITED NATIONS New York, 2009

Note Operating and experimental conditions are reproduced from the original reference materials, including unpublished methods, validated and used in selected national laboratories as per the list of references. A number of alternative conditions and substitution of named commercial products may provide comparable results in many cases, but any modification has to be validated before it is integrated into laboratory routines. Mention of names of firms and commercial products does not imply the endorsement of the United Nations.

ST/NAR/40

UNITED NATIONS PUBLICATION Sales No. E.09.XI.15 ISBN 978-92-1-148242-3

This publication has not been formally edited. Original language: English

AcknowledgementsThe Laboratory and Scientific Section (headed by Justice Tettey) of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) wishes to express its thanks to the following experts for their contribution to the contents of the present manual: Dr. Michael Bovens and Mr. Markus Schlpfer, Scientific Forensic Service, Zurich City Police, Switzerland Ms. Sue Fiddian, Manager, Botany Branch, Forensic Services Department, Victoria Police, Australia; and Illicit Drugs Specialist Advisory Group for Senior Managers of Australian and New Zealand Forensic Laboratories (SMANZFL) Mr. Andrew Holmes, Senior Scientific Advisor, Drug Analysis Service, Health Canada, Toronto, Canada Dr. Henk Huizer, Drugs Department, Netherlands Forensic Institute, The Hague, The Netherlands (retired) Mr. A. Kader Jackaria, Forensic Chemist and Toxicologist, Mauritius Dr. Lee Tong Kooi, Division Director, Illicit Drugs and Toxicology Division, Applied Sciences Group, Health Sciences Authority, Singapore Mr. Adriano Otvio Maldaner and Ms. Daniele Zago Souza, Federal Criminal Police, Brazil Dr. H. Stambouli, Forensic Science Laboratory, Gendarmerie Royale, Rabat, Morocco Dr. Kalman Szendrei, Professor emeritus, Albert Szent-Gyrgyi University, Szeged, Hungary UNODCs Laboratory and Scientific Section also wishes to express its thanks to Dr. Michael Bovens and Markus Schlpfer for reviewing and updating the original manual Recommended methods for testing cannabis, for preparing the initial draft of the present revised and updated manual, and for finalizing the manuscript, using additional contributions from the above experts.* Barbara Remberg coordinated this publication for UNODC and wishes to acknowledge the contribution of other UNODC staff.

*Dr. Bovens wishes to acknowledge Ms. Lisa Frischknecht for editorial assistance of the initial draft.

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ContentsPage

1.

INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.1 Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.2 Purpose and use of the manual . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

1 1 2 5 5 7 7 7 7 7 9 10 11 11 11 11 12 12 12 13 13 14 14 14 15 16 16 17 17 18 19 19 19 20

2. ILLICIT PRODUCTION OF CANNABIS PRODUCTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.1 Cannabis market . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3. DESCRIPTION OF THE CANNABIS PLANT AND ILLICIT CANNABIS PRODUCTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.1 Name . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.2 Synonyms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.3 Taxonomy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.4 Physical appearance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.5 Similarities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.6 Breeding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.6.1 Sinsemilla (Spanish for: no seed) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.6.2 Cloning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.6.3 Artificially induced hermaphrodites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.6.4 Outdoor production . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.6.5 Indoor production . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.7 Industrial cannabis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.8 Flowering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.9 Harvesting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.10 Yield ................................................. 3.11 9-THC distribution in cannabis plants and products . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.12 Biosynthesis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.13 Cannabis products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.13.1 Herbal cannabis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.13.2 Cannabis resin (hashish). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.13.2.1 Cannabis resin from Mediterranean countries . . . 3.13.2.2 Cannabis resin from South and South-West Asia 3.13.2.3 Cannabis resin from pollinators/ice-o-lators . . 3.13.3 Liquid cannabis (hashish oil) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.13.4 Cannabis seeds and cannabis seed oil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.13.5 Cannabis essential oil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.14 Estimation of the age of cannabis samples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.15 Drug-type versus fibre-type cannabis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .v

Page

4. CHEMICAL CONSTITUENTS OF FORENSIC SIGNIFICANCE . . . . . . . 21 5. QUALITATIVE AND QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS OF CANNABIS PRODUCTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.1 Sampling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.1.1 Sampling of plants (indoor and outdoor plantations) . . . . . . 5.1.2 Sampling of seized cannabis products. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.1.2.1 Herbal cannabis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.1.2.2 Cannabis resin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.1.2.3 Liquid cannabis (oil) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.2 Minimum criteria for positive identification of cannabis . . . . . . . . . . 5.3 Physical examination. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.3.1 Macroscopic characteristics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.3.2 Microscopic characteristics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.4 Chemical examination . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.4.1 General aspects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.4.2 Sample preparation for chemical examination . . . . . . . . . . . 5.4.2.1 Preparation of herbal cannabis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.4.2.2 Preparation of cannabis resin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.4.2.3 Preparation of cannabis oil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.4.3 Presumptive tests . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.4.3.1 Colour tests . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.4.3.2 Immunoassays . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.4.4 Ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.4.5 Thin-layer chromatography (TLC). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.4.6 Gas chromatography-flame ionization detection (GC-FID), without and with derivatization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.4.6.1 Capillary column technique . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.4.7 Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) . . . . . . . 5.4.8 High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) . . . . . . . 6. ADDITIONAL ANALYTICAL TECHNIQUES AND APPROACHES FOR THE ANALYSIS OF CANNABIS PRODUCTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.1 GC-FID profiling of seizures of cannabis products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.2 Solid phase-micro extraction (SPME) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.3 Stable isotope ratio-mass spectrometry (IRMS) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.4 DNA profiling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 25 25 26 26 26 27 27 27 27 30 32 32 33 33 33 33 33 33 36 36 36 39 39 41 41 45 45 45 46 46

7. REFERENCES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

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1.

Introduction

1.1 BackgroundCannabis products are the most widely trafficked drugs worldwide, accounting for 65 per cent of all global seizure cases (1.65 million cases) in 2006. 5,200 metric tons of herb and 1,000 metric tons of resin were seized in 2006. Practically all countries in the world are affected by cannabis trafficking. Similarly, cannabis also remains the most widely used drug worldwide, with an estimated 166 million people having used ca

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