Analysis of Synthetic Cannabinoids by Direct Analysis in Real Time Quadrupole Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry and Gas Chromatography Quadrupole Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry

Tyler S. Torbet

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The aim of this study was to investigate the utility of direct analysis in real time quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry and gas chromatography quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry in the analysis of 162 different synthetic cannabinoids. Direct analysis in real time quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry is shown to be a rapid and accurate analytical method for synthetic cannabinoids. Spectra can be generated with less than 1.5 ng of the drug in under a minute and be successfully searched against previously generated ESI-QTOF libraries in most cases (118/130 drugs tested) as well as can also be applied to the identification of synthetic cannabinoids in a mixture. Gas chromatography quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry, while requiring a much longer analysis time, is shown to accurately distinguish all but 19 compounds (140/159). These two instruments have proven to be viable alternatives in synthetic cannabinoid analysis and will greatly benefit forensic laboratories.