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Issue 6, 2020, Issue in Progress
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Confirmatory non-invasive and non-destructive differentiation between hemp and cannabis using a hand-held Raman spectrometer

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Abstract

Cannabis is a generic term that is used to denote hemp plants (Cannabis sativa) that produce delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) in amounts higher than industrial hemp. While THCA itself is not considered psychoactive, it is the source of the psychoactive delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that forms from its oxidation. About 147 million people, which is around 2.5% of the world population, consume cannabis. This makes cannabis by far the most widely cultivated and trafficked illicit drug in the world. Such enormous popularity of cannabis requires substantial effort by border control and law enforcement agencies to control illegal trafficking and distribution. Confirmatory diagnostics of cannabis is currently done by high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC), which requires sample transportation to a certified laboratory, making THC diagnostics extremely time and labor consuming. This catalyzed a push towards development of a portable, confirmatory, non-invasive and non-destructive approach for cannabis diagnostics that could be performed by a police officer directly in the field to verify illicit drug possession or transport. Raman spectroscopy (RS) is a modern analytical technique that meets all these strict expectations. In this manuscript, we show that RS can be used to determine whether plant material is hemp or cannabis with 100% accuracy. We also demonstrate that RS can be used to probe the content of THCA in the analyzed samples. These findings suggest that a hand-held Raman spectrometer can be an ideal tool for police officers and hemp breeders to enable highly accurate diagnostics of THCA content in plants.

Graphical abstract: Confirmatory non-invasive and non-destructive differentiation between hemp and cannabis using a hand-held Raman spectrometer

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Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
09 Oct 2019
Accepted
27 Dec 2019
First published
17 Jan 2020

This article is Open Access

RSC Adv., 2020,10, 3212-3216
Article type
Paper

Confirmatory non-invasive and non-destructive differentiation between hemp and cannabis using a hand-held Raman spectrometer

L. Sanchez, C. Filter, D. Baltensperger and D. Kurouski, RSC Adv., 2020, 10, 3212
DOI: 10.1039/C9RA08225E

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported Licence. Material from this article can be used in other publications provided that the correct acknowledgement is given with the reproduced material and it is not used for commercial purposes.

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    [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry.

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