Determination of cannabinoids from a surrogate hops matrix using multiple reaction monitoring gas chromatography with triple quadrupole mass spectrometry

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EarlyView Article

  • Published: Dec 1, 2017
  • Author: Allegra Leghissa, Zacariah L. Hildenbrand, Frank W. Foss, Kevin A. Schug
  • Journal: Journal of Separation Science


Cannabinoids are the primary bioactive constituents of Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica plants. In this work, gas chromatography in conjunction with triple quadrupole mass spectrometry in multiple reaction monitoring mode was explored for determination of cannabinoids from a surrogate hops matrix. Gas chromatography with mass spectrometry is a reasonable choice for the analysis of these compounds; however, such methods are susceptible to false positives for Δ9‐tetrahydrocannabinol, due to decarboxylation of Δ9‐tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, its acid precursor, in the hot injection port. To avoid this transformation, the carboxyl group of Δ9‐tetrahydrocannabinolic acid was protected through a silylation reaction. Multiple reaction monitoring transitions for both unmodified and silylated cannabinoids were developed and the fragmentation pathways for the different species were assigned. Precision and accuracy were evaluated for cannabinoids spiked into hops at different levels. The developed methods provided good linearity (R2 > 0.99) for all the cannabinoids with a linear range from 0.15 to 20 mg/L, and with limits of detection in the orders of low‐ to mid‐picogram on column. The recoveries for the cannabinoids were generally between 75 and 120%. Precisions (<6% coefficient of variation) were within acceptable ranges.

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