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Issue 19, 2021
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The influence of terpenes on the release of volatile organic compounds and active ingredients to cannabis vaping aerosols

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Abstract

Dabbing and vaping cannabis extracts have gained large popularity in the United States as alternatives to cannabis smoking, but diversity in both available products and consumption habits make it difficult to assess consumer exposure to psychoactive ingredients and potentially harmful components. This work studies the how relative ratios of the two primary components of cannabis extracts, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and terpenes, affect dosage of these and exposure to harmful or potentially harmful components (HPHCs). THC contains a monoterpene moiety and has been previously shown to emit similar volatile degradation products to terpenes when vaporized. Herein, the major thermal degradation mechanisms for THC and β-myrcene are elucidated via analysis of their aerosol gas phase products using automated thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry with the aid of isotopic labelling and chemical mechanism modelling. Four abundant products – isoprene, 2-methyl-2-butene, 3-methylcrotonaldehyde, and 3-methyl-1-butene – are shown to derive from a common radical intermediate for both THC and β-myrcene and these products comprise 18–30% of the aerosol gas phase. The relative levels of these four products are highly correlated with applied power to the e-cigarette, which indicates formation of these products is temperature dependent. Vaping THC–β-myrcene mixtures with increasing % mass of β-myrcene is correlated with less degradation of the starting material and a product distribution suggestive of a lower aerosolization temperature. By contrast, dabbing THC–β-myrcene mixtures with increasing % mass of β-myrcene is associated with higher levels of HPHCs, and isotopic labelling showed this is due to increased reactivity of β-myrcene relative to THC.

Graphical abstract: The influence of terpenes on the release of volatile organic compounds and active ingredients to cannabis vaping aerosols

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Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
03 Feb 2021
Accepted
04 Mar 2021
First published
23 Mar 2021

This article is Open Access

RSC Adv., 2021,11, 11714-11723
Article type
Paper

The influence of terpenes on the release of volatile organic compounds and active ingredients to cannabis vaping aerosols

J. Meehan-Atrash, W. Luo, K. J. McWhirter, D. G. Dennis, D. Sarlah, R. P. Jensen, I. Afreh, J. Jiang, K. C. Barsanti, A. Ortiz and R. M. Strongin, RSC Adv., 2021, 11, 11714 DOI: 10.1039/D1RA00934F

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence. You can use material from this article in other publications without requesting further permissions from the RSC, provided that the correct acknowledgement is given.

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