The differentiation of fibre- and drug type Cannabis seedlings by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and chemometric tools.

Institut de Police Scientifique, School of Criminal Sciences, Batochime, University of Lausanne, 1015 Lausanne-Dorigny, Switzerland.
Forensic science international (Impact Factor: 2.1). 04/2010; 200(1-3):87-92. DOI: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2010.03.034
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Cannabis cultivation in order to produce drugs is forbidden in Switzerland. Thus, law enforcement authorities regularly ask forensic laboratories to determinate cannabis plant's chemotype from seized material in order to ascertain that the plantation is legal or not. As required by the EU official analysis protocol the THC rate of cannabis is measured from the flowers at maturity. When laboratories are confronted to seedlings, they have to lead the plant to maturity, meaning a time consuming and costly procedure. This study investigated the discrimination of fibre type from drug type Cannabis seedlings by analysing the compounds found in their leaves and using chemometrics tools. 11 legal varieties allowed by the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture and 13 illegal ones were greenhouse grown and analysed using a gas chromatograph interfaced with a mass spectrometer. Compounds that show high discrimination capabilities in the seedlings have been identified and a support vector machines (SVMs) analysis was used to classify the cannabis samples. The overall set of samples shows a classification rate above 99% with false positive rates less than 2%. This model allows then discrimination between fibre and drug type Cannabis at an early stage of growth. Therefore it is not necessary to wait plants' maturity to quantify their amount of THC in order to determine their chemotype. This procedure could be used for the control of legal (fibre type) and illegal (drug type) Cannabis production.

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