Advertisement

Chemical Fingerprinting of Cannabis as a Means of Source Identification

  • Mahmoud A. ElSohly
  • Donald F. Stanford
  • Timothy P. Murphy
Part of the Forensic Science And Medicine book series (FSM)

Abstract

Marijuana is the most widely abused and readily available illicit drug in the United States, with an estimated 11.5 million current users annually purchasing more than $10 billion of the drug (1). Drug enforcement agencies are therefore keenly interested in trafficking routes of both foreign and domestically grown supplies of marijuana. From confidential sources to satellites, these agencies employ a multitude of methods to gather intelligence to direct resources, plan control operations, and develop policies. A practical means to recognize the source of seized marijuana would be a valuable tool for those purposes. Based on findings from 1990 to 1992 and described here, one way to determine origin is by using a chemical fingerprint system, a method that has shown promise as an effective intelligence tool to ascertain the geographic origin of confiscated marijuana samples. Of the many factors that affect the chemical constituents of marijuana, it is apparent that environmental factors consistently induce profiles unique to each environ. An “environ of origin” as broad as a continent or as small as an indoor garden may be differentiated based on the chemical fingerprint, or “signature,” of marijuana cultivated there—if a statistically significant number of samples grown in that environ are available for comparison. However, because all environs are not unique, the chemical fingerprint of cannabis is not considered to be an ultimate tool for forensic applications, although the technique may effectively support other types of evidence and is certainly of particular value in intelligence operations.

Keywords

Cannabis Sativa Chemical Fingerprint Cannabis Plant Drug Enforcement Administration Daughter Plant 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    Marnell, T. (ed.) (2001) Drug Identification Bible. Amera-Chem, Grand Junction, CO.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Holley, J. H., Hadley, K. W., and Turner, C. E. (1975) Constituents of Cannabis sativa L. XI. Cannabindiol and cannabichromene in samples of known geographic origin. J. Pharm. Sci. 64 (5), 892–895.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Small, E., Beckstead, H. D., and Chan, A. (1975) The evolution of cannabinoid phenotype in Cannabis. Econ. Bot. 29 (3), 219–232.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Steinberg, S., Offermeier, J., Field, B. I., and Jansen Van Ryssen, F. W. (1975) Investigation of the influence of soil types, environmental conditions, age and morphological plant parts on the chemical composition of Cannabis sativa (dagga) plants. S. Afr. Med. J. 49, 279.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    De Faubert Maunder, J. G. (1970) A comparative evaluation of the delta-9-tetrahydrocan-nabinol content of Cannabis plants. J. Assoc. Pub. Anal. 8, 42–47.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Jenkins, R. W. and Patterson, D. A. (1973) Relation between chemical composition and geographical origin of Cannabis. Forensic Sci. 2 (1), 59–66.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Novotny, M., Lee, M. L., and Low, C. E. (1976) Analysis of marihuana samples from different origins by high resolution gas chromatography for forensic application. Anal. Chem. 48 (1), 24–29.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Wheals, B. B. (1976) Forensic applications of high pressure liquid chromatography. Chromatography 122, 85–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Baker, P. B. and Fowler, R. (1978) Analytical aspects of the chemistry of Cannabis. Proc. Anal. Div. Chem. Soc. 15 (12), 347–349.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Tucker, R. B. and Graham, B. F. (1979) Cannabinoid content of a stand of Cannabis grown clandestinely in Nova Scotia. J. Can. Soc. Forensic Sci. 12 (4), 163–172.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Baker, P. B., Fowler, R., Bagon, K. R., and Gough, T. A. (1980) Determination of the distribution of cannabinoids in Cannabis resin using high performance liquid chromatography. J. Anal. Toxicol. 4 (3), 145–152.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Baker, P. B., Gough, T. A., and Taylor, B. J. (1980) Illicitly imported Cannabis products: some physical and chemical features indicative of their origin. Bull. Narc. 32 (2), 31–40.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Baker, P. B., Bagon, K. R., and Gough, T. A. (1980) Variation in the THC content of illicitly imported Cannabis products. Bull. Narc. 32 (4), 47–54.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Hemphill, J. K., Turner, J. C., and Mahlberg, P. G. (1980) Cannabinoid content of individual plant organs from different geographical strains of Cannabis sativa, L. J. Nat. Prod. 43 (1), 112–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Baker, P. B., Gough, T. A., and Taylor, B. J. (1982) The physical and chemical features of Cannabis plants grown in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from seeds of known origin. Bull. Narc. 34 (1), 27–36.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Idilbi, M. M., Huvenne, J. P., Fleury, G., Tran Van Ky, P., Muller, P. H., and Moschetto, Y. (1985) Hashish analysis using gas chromatography coupled to fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. II. Tetrahyrocannabinol determiniation. Bull. Soc. Pharm. Lille 41 (4), 33–35.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Nakahara, Y. and Tanak, K. (1988) Studies on discrimination of confiscated Cannabis products by high performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detector. Bull. Natl. Inst. Hyg. Sci. 106, 11–88.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Gough, T. A. (1991) The examination of drugs in smuggling offences, in The Analysis of Drugs of Abuse (Gough, T. A., ed.), John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ, pp. 511–565.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Pitts, J. E., Neal, J. D. and Gough, T. A. (1992) Some features of Cannabis plants grown in the United Kingdom from seeds of known origin. J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 44 (12), 947–951.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Fagioli, F., Locatelli, C., Scanavini, L., Landi, S., and Donini, G. B. (1986) Characterization of narcotics of vegetal origin by their content of various elements determined by atomic adsorption spectrophotometry with sampling in carbonaceous slurry. Anal. Sci. 2 (3), 239–242.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Watling, R. J. (1998) Sourcing the provenance of Cannabis crops using inter-element association patterns “fingerprinting” and laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spec-trometry. J. Anal. Atomic Spectrometry 19 (9), 917–926.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Hood, L. V. S. and Barry, G. T. (1978) Headspace volatiles of marihuana and hashish: gas chromatographic analysis of samples of different geographic origin. J. Chromatogr. 166 (2), 499–506.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Krishnamurty, H. G. and Kaushal, R. (1976) Free sugars and cyclitols of Indian marijuana (Cannabis sativa, L.). J. Chem. 14B (8), 639–640.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Bryant, V. M., Jones, J. G., and Midenhall, D. C. (1990) Forensic palynology in the United States of America. Palynology 14, 193–208.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Crosby, T. K., Watt, J. C., Kistemaker, A. C., and Nelson, P. E. (1986) Entomological identification of the origin of imported Cannabis. J. Forensic Sci. Soc. 26 (1), 35–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Smith, K. G. V. (ed.) (1986) Cannabis insects, in A Manual of Forensic Entomology, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, pp. 169–173.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Gilmore, S., Peakall, R., and Robertson, J. (2003) Short tandem repeat (STR) DNA markers are hypervariable and informative in Cannabis sativa: implications for forensic investigations. Forensic Sci. Int. 131 (1), 65–74.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Miller, C. H., Palmbach, T., Juliano, N., Ladd, C., and Lee, H. C. (2003) An overview of DNA methods for the identification and individualizion of marijuana. Croat. Med. J. 44 (3), 315–321.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Hsieh, H. M., Hou, R. J., Chen, K. F., et al. (2004) Establishing the rDNA IGS signature of Cannabis sativa. J. Forensic Sci. 49 (3), 477–480.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Gigliano, G. S. and Finizio, A. D. (1997/1998) The Cannabis sativa L. fingerprint as a tool in forensic investigations. Bull. Narc. XLIX & L (1 & 2), 129–137.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Adelmonem, A., Clark, V. A., and May, S. (2004) Computer Aided Multivariate Analysis, Chapman & Hall/CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Everitt, B. S. and Dunn, G. (2001) Applied Multivariate Data Analysis, Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Turner, C. E., ElSohly, M. A., and Boeren, E. G. (1980) Constituents of Cannabis sativa L, XVII: a review of the natural constituents. J. Nat. Prod. 43 (2), 169–234.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Brenneisen, R. and ElSohly, M. A. (1988) Chromatographic and spectroscopic profiles of Cannabis of different origins: Part I. J. Forensic Sci. 33 (6), 1385–1404.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Adams, R. P. (1989) Identification of Essential Oils by Ion Trap Mass Spectroscopy, Academic Press, San Diego, CA.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Lewis, R., Ward, S., Johnson, R., and Thorburn Burns, D. (2005) Distribution of the principal cannabinoids within bars of compressed Cannabis resin. Anal. Chim. Acta 538, 399–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Lehmann, T. and Brenneisen, R. (1995) High performance liquid chromatographic profiling of Cannabis products. J. Liq. Chromatogr. 18 (4), 689–700.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Hida, M., Mitsui, T., Minami, Y., and Fujimura, Y. (1995) Classification of hashish by pyrolysis-gas chromatography. J. Anal. Appl. Pyrolysis 32, 197–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Brenneisen, R. and Meyer, P. (2004) Chemical profiling of Cannabis produced in Switzerland. Final Report to Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, University of Bern, Switzerland.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc., Totowa, New Jersey 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mahmoud A. ElSohly
    • 1
  • Donald F. Stanford
    • 2
  • Timothy P. Murphy
    • 3
  1. 1.The School of PharmacyThe University of MississippiOxford
  2. 2.National Center for Natural Products Research, Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of PharmacyThe University of MississippiOxford
  3. 3.ElSohly Laboratories Inc.Oxford

Personalised recommendations