Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Forensic Science

First Advisor's Name

Jose Almirall

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Anthony DeCaprio

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Bruce McCord

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Synthetic cannabinoids, Designer drugs, Direct analysis in real time, Gas chromatography, Quadrupole Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry

Date of Defense



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.





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