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DRUG TESTING - HAIR & Cannabis studies completed

Overview

Hair testing analyzes a hair sample for parent drugs and their metabolites.  A hair specimen, collected from a donor's head or body, is sent to the laboratory and is screened for illicit substances.

Cannabis
can be detected in a hair sample from the head for up to 90 days. Body hair samples are said to detect the substance even longer. Usually provided by persons with short or limited hair on their heads.
 
Because hair grows about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) in 90 days, hairs with a length of about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) are targeted for cutting.
 
Note: Because it can take up to a week for drug-affected hair to grow above the scalp, hair tests can miss very recent drug use.
also see Drug Testing for: Blood, Oral, Other, and Urine
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DRUG TESTING - HAIR & Cannabis studies completed

2006 - Study - Deposition of cannabinoids in hair after long-term use of cannabis

2007 - Study - Cannabinoid concentrations in hair from documented cannabis users

2007 - Study - Differentiation between drug use and environmental contamination when testing for drugs in hair

2007 - Study - Evaluation of the IDS One-Step ELISA kits for the detection of illicit drugs in hair

2010 - Study ~ Hair analysis for Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid A--new insights into the mechanism of drug incorporation of cannabinoids into hair.

2010 - Study ~ 11-nor-Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid ethyl ester (THC-COOEt): unsuccessful search for a marker of combined cannabis and alcohol consumption.

Cannabinoid concentrations in hair from documented cannabis users

Huestis MA, Gustafson RA, Moolchan ET, Barnes A, Bourland JA, Sweeney SA, Hayes EF, Carpenter PM, Smith ML

Chemistry and Drug Metabolism, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, MD 21224, United States. [email protected]

 

Fifty-three head hair specimens were collected from 38 males with a history of cannabis use documented by questionnaire, urinalysis and controlled, double blind administration of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in an institutional review board approved protocol.

The subjects completed a questionnaire indicating daily cannabis use (N=18) or non-daily use, i.e. one to five cannabis cigarettes per week (N=20).

Drug use was also documented by a positive cannabinoid urinalysis, a hair specimen was collected from each subject and they were admitted to a closed research unit.

Additional hair specimens were collected following smoking of two 2.7% THC cigarettes (N=13) or multiple oral doses totaling 116 mg THC (N=2). Cannabinoid concentrations in all hair specimens were determined by ELISA and GCMSMS. Pre- and post-dose detection rates did not differ statistically, therefore, all 53 specimens were considered as one group for further comparisons.

Nineteen specimens (36%) had no detectable THC or 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC (THCCOOH) at the GCMSMS limits of quantification (LOQ) of 1.0 and 0.1 pg/mg hair, respectively. Two specimens (3.8%) had measurable THC only, 14 (26%) THCCOOH only, and 18 (34%) both cannabinoids. Detection rates were significantly different (p<0.05, Fishers' exact test) between daily cannabis users (85%) and non-daily users (52%).

There was no difference in detection rates between African-American and Caucasian subjects (p>0.3, Fisher's exact test). For specimens with detectable cannabinoids, concentrations ranged from 3.4 to >100 pg THC/mg and 0.10 to 7.3 pg THCCOOH/mg hair. THC and THCCOOH concentrations were positively correlated (r=0.38, p<0.01, Pearson's product moment correlation).

Using an immunoassay cutoff concentration of 5 pg THC equiv./mg hair, 83% of specimens that screened positive were confirmed by GCMSMS at a cutoff concentration of 0.1 pg THCCOOH/mg hair.

Published 4 June 2007 in Forensic Sci Int, 169(2): 129-36.
Full-text of this article is available online (may require subscription)

 

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Differentiation between drug use and environmental contamination when testing for drugs in hair

Forensic Science International
Volume 176, Issue 1, 21 March 2008, Pages 19-22
Practical Aspects of Drug Testing in Hair

Copyright © 2007 Elsevier Ireland Ltd All rights reserved.

Lolita Tsanaclis, and John F.C. Wicks

TrichoTech, No. 1 Pentwyn Business Centre, Cardiff CF23 7HB, United Kingdom

Received 31 May 2007; 
accepted 20 August 2007. 
Available online 5 November 2007.

Abstract

The differentiation between systemic exposure and external contamination for certain drug groups has been frequently referred to as one of the limitations of in drug testing in hair. When hair samples are used, three steps are usually employed in order to minimise the possibility of external contamination causing a misinterpretation.

The first consists of decontaminating hair samples by washing the hair before analysis, the second is the detection of the relevant metabolites in the hair samples and the third is the use of cut-off levels. Difficulty in the interpretation arises when metabolites are not detected either due to external contamination of the hair or low doses of the drugs used. A wash protocol needs to be practical and ideally remove any drug deposited on the external portion of the hair.

We propose an additional step that helps considerably in the interpretation of the results with the aim to establish a consensus: the analysis of the wash residue (W) and its comparison with the levels detected in hair (H).

The wash residue is the remainder of a quick wash with methanol which is dried and reconstituted in buffer before analysis.

The detection of small quantities of analytes that are not susceptible to external contamination in the wash residue, such as metabolites or drugs such as dihydrocodeine, indicates that the washing procedure is in fact able to remove drugs from the hair shaft. Where the W/H ratio is less then 0.1 or null, it would tend to indicate drug use as opposed to environmental contamination.

Where the W/H ratio is above 0.1 but less than 0.5, it is likely to indicate possible use possibly combined with a level of external contamination. A W/H ratio greater than 0.5 is likely to indicate that the source of most of the drug in the wash residue is from external contamination.

In this last case, the source of levels detected in the hair is questionable, as it is not possible to be absolutely sure that all external contamination was removed, and so use cannot be confirmed.

Two hundred and sixteen hair samples from a population where external contamination could be expected (Police Investigations on drug related cases) and their wash residue were analysed. The W/H ratios of 891 results were evaluated over 13 analytes.

Between 74 and 100% of the analytes studied produced W/H ratios less than 0.5, in particular in cannabis (93%) and cocaine (95%), where external contamination is more likely because of the way the drug is used.

The data do show that while it is very important to always be aware of alternative explanations for test results, the likelihood of external contamination confounding the interpretation of hair tests can be reduced to manageable proportions.

 

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Evaluation of the IDS One-Step ELISA kits for the detection of illicit drugs in hair

Forensic Sci Int. 2007 Aug 6;170(2-3):189-92. Epub 2007 Jul 12

Pujol ML, Cirimele V, Tritsch PJ, Villain M, Kintz P.

Laboratoire ChemTox, Illkirch, France.

Abstract

This work presents the validation of a new immunological assay, the One-Step enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) tests from International Diagnostic Systems Corp. for the screening of drugs of abuse (cannabis, amphetamines, opiates, and cocaine) in human hair, with subsequent GC-MS confirmation.

After decontamination and segmentation into small pieces, 50 mg of hair sample were incubated in 1 ml of methanol during 16 h at 40 degrees C. A 100 microL aliquot was collected and evaporated to dryness in presence of 100 microL of methanol/hydrochloric acid (99:1, v/v) to avoid amphetamines loss. The dried extract was dissolved in 100 microL of the "sample and standard diluent" solution included in the kit.

This solution was submitted to analysis according to the recommended instructions of the manufacturer. During the validation phase, GC-MS confirmations were conducted according to our fully validated and published methods for opiates, cocaine, cannabis, and amphetamines determinations in hair. In a last development step, these procedures were slightly modified to directly confirm ELISA results by GC-MS using the methanolic extract.

Ninety-three specimens were simultaneously screened by the ELISA tests (103 for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)) and confirmed by GC-MS. Twenty were found positive for cannabis (THC: 0.10-6.50 ng/mg), 21 for cocaine (0.50-55.20 ng/mg), 24 for opiates (6-acetylmorphine (6-AM): 0.20-11.60 ng/mg, MOR: 0.20-8.90 ng/mg, codeine (COD): 0.20-5.90 ng/mg), and 13 for amphetamines (AP: 0.20 and 0.27 ng/mg, methamphetamine (MAP): 0.30 and 1.10 ng/mg, methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA): 0.22-17.80 ng/mg). No false negative results were observed according to the Society of Hair Testing's (SoHT) cutoffs (0.5 ng/mg for cocaine, 0.2 ng/mg for opiates and amphetamines, and 0.1 ng/mg for THC).

The One-Step ELISA kits appear suitable due to their sensitivity and specificity for drug of abuse screening in hair.

This technology should find interest in workplace drug testing or driving license regranting, especially when many samples have to be tested with a high rate of negative samples, as ELISA is an easy and high-throughput method.

 

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Deposition of cannabinoids in hair after long-term use of cannabis

annabis

Abstract 

Hair analysis has shown great potential in the detection and control of drug use. Whether an assay is of quantitative value roughly corresponding to the amount of drug consumed, is still a matter of debate.

The present investigation was aimed at a possible relationship between the cannabinoid concentration in hair and the cumulative dose in regular users of cannabis. Hair samples from the vertex region of the scalp were obtained from 12 male regular users of cannabis, and 10 male subjects with no experience of cannabis served as controls. None of the subjects had his hair permed, bleached or colored.

Cannabis users provided information on drug use such as the current cannabis dose per day, the cumulative cannabis dose of the last 3 months, as well as the frequency of cannabis use during the last year. The concentration of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinol (CBN) and cannabidiol (CBD) in hair was determined using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. Cannabinoids were present in any hair sample of cannabis users, but were not detectable in control specimens.

An increase in the amount of cannabinoids in hair with increasing dose was evident. The concentration of major cannabinoids (sum of THC, CBD and CBN) was significantly correlated to either the reported cumulative cannabis dose during the last 3 months or to the cannabis use during the last 3 months estimated from the daily dose and the frequency per year (r=0.68 or 0.71, p=0.023 or 0.014).

A significant relationship between THC and the amount of cannabis used could not be established. As a conclusion, the sum of major cannabinoids in hair of regular users may provide a better measure of drug use than THC.

 

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Comparison of meconium and neonatal hair analysis for detection of gestational exposure to drugs of abuse

 
Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2003 March; 88(2): F98–F100.
doi: 10.1136/fn.88.2.F98.
PMCID: PMC1721515

B Bar-Oz, J Klein, T Karaskov, and G Koren

Abstract
 
Background: Meconium and hair are two biological markers of in utero exposure to illicit drugs.
 
Objective: To compare the sensitivity of the two tests for different drugs.
 
Setting: Motherisk laboratory which tests in utero drug exposure in Toronto.
 
Methods: Cocaine, benzoylecgonine, opiates, cannabis, benzodiazepines, methadone, and barbiturates were measured in pairs of hair and meconium samples from the same neonates.
 
Results: Meconium was marginally more sensitive than neonatal hair for detection of cocaine and cannabis, possibly because it may detect second trimester exposure whereas hair grows only during the third trimester of pregnancy. There was a significant correlation between hair and meconium concentrations of cocaine, cannabis, and opiates.
 
Conclusion: In cases of clinical suspicion and a negative neonatal urine test, both meconium and hair are effective biological markers of in utero illicit drug exposure. Meconium may be more sensitive, but neonatal hair is available for three months whereas meconium is available for only one or two days. In contrast, the use of meconium, being a discarded material, is more acceptable to some parents than hair testing, which entails cutting scalp hair from the newborn.
 
Full Text
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Selected References
These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Jekel JF, Allen DF, Podlewski H, Clarke N, Dean-Patterson S, Cartwright P. Epidemic free-base cocaine abuse. Case study from the Bahamas. Lancet. 1986 Mar 1;1(8479):459–462. [PubMed]
  • Volpe JJ. Effect of cocaine use on the fetus. N Engl J Med. 1992 Aug 6;327(6):399–407. [PubMed]
  • Gillogley KM, Evans AT, Hansen RL, Samuels SJ, Batra KK. The perinatal impact of cocaine, amphetamine, and opiate use detected by universal intrapartum screening. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1990 Nov;163(5 Pt 1):1535–1542. [PubMed]
  • Chasnoff IJ, Griffith DR. Cocaine: clinical studies of pregnancy and the newborn. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1989;562:260–266. [PubMed]
  • Addis A, Moretti ME, Ahmed Syed F, Einarson TR, Koren G. Fetal effects of cocaine: an updated meta-analysis. Reprod Toxicol. 2001 Jul–Aug;15(4):341–369. [PubMed]
  • Chasnoff IJ, Bussey ME, Savich R, Stack CM. Perinatal cerebral infarction and maternal cocaine use. J Pediatr. 1986 Mar;108(3):456–459. [PubMed]
  • Lopez SL, Taeusch HW, Findlay RD, Walther FJ. Time of onset of necrotizing enterocolitis in newborn infants with known prenatal cocaine exposure. Clin Pediatr (Phila) 1995 Aug;34(8):424–429. [PubMed]
  • Frank DA, Augustyn M, Knight WG, Pell T, Zuckerman B. Growth, development, and behavior in early childhood following prenatal cocaine exposure: a systematic review. JAMA. 2001 Mar 28;285(12):1613–1625. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Frank Deborah A, Augustyn Marilyn, Knight Wanda Grant, Pell Tripler, Zuckerman Barry. Growth, Development, and Behavior in Early Childhood Following Prenatal Cocaine Exposure: A Systematic Review. JAMA. 2008 May 2;285(12):1613–1625. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Franck L, Vilardi J. Assessment and management of opioid withdrawal in ill neonates. Neonatal Netw. 1995 Mar;14(2):39–48. [PubMed]
  • Dixon SD. Effects of transplacental exposure to cocaine and methamphetamine on the neonate. West J Med. 1989 Apr;150(4):436–442. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Dixon SD. Effects of transplacental exposure to cocaine and methamphetamine on the neonate. West J Med. 1989 Apr;150(4):436–442. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Birchfield M, Scully J, Handler A. Perinatal screening for illicit drugs: policies in hospitals in a large metropolitan area. J Perinatol. 1995 May–Jun;15(3):208–214. [PubMed]
  • Forman R, Klein J, Meta D, Barks J, Greenwald M, Koren G. Maternal and neonatal characteristics following exposure to cocaine in Toronto. Reprod Toxicol. 1993 Nov–Dec;7(6):619–622. [PubMed]
  • Ostrea EM, Jr, Knapp DK, Tannenbaum L, Ostrea AR, Romero A, Salari V, Ager J. Estimates of illicit drug use during pregnancy by maternal interview, hair analysis, and meconium analysis. J Pediatr. 2001 Mar;138(3):344–348. [PubMed]
  • Cirimele V, Kintz P, Mangin P. Testing human hair for cannabis. Forensic Sci Int. 1995 Jan 5;70(1-3):175–182. [PubMed]
  • Graham K, Koren G, Klein J, Schneiderman J, Greenwald M. Determination of gestational cocaine exposure by hair analysis. JAMA. 1989 Dec 15;262(23):3328–3330. [PubMed]
  • Klein J, Karaskov T, Koren G. Clinical applications of hair testing for drugs of abuse--the Canadian experience. Forensic Sci Int. 2000 Jan 10;107(1-3):281–288. [PubMed]
  • Koren G, Klein J, Forman R, Graham K. Hair analysis of cocaine: differentiation between systemic exposure and external contamination. J Clin Pharmacol. 1992 Jul;32(7):671–675. [PubMed]
  • Chiriboga CA, Bateman DA, Brust JC, Hauser WA. Neurologic findings in neonates with intrauterine cocaine exposure. Pediatr Neurol. 1993 Mar–Apr;9(2):115–119. [PubMed]
  • Chiriboga CA, Brust JC, Bateman D, Hauser WA. Dose-response effect of fetal cocaine exposure on newborn neurologic function. Pediatrics. 1999 Jan;103(1):79–85. [PubMed]
  • Dolovich LR, Addis A, Vaillancourt JM, Power JD, Koren G, Einarson TR. Benzodiazepine use in pregnancy and major malformations or oral cleft: meta-analysis of cohort and case-control studies. BMJ. 1998 Sep 26;317(7162):839–843. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Dolovich Lisa R, Addis Antonio, Vaillancourt J M Régis, Power J D Barry, Koren Gideon, Einarson Thomas R. Benzodiazepine use in pregnancy and major malformations or oral cleft: meta-analysis of cohort and case-control studies. BMJ. 1998 Sep 26;317(7162):839–843. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Ursitti F, Klein J, Sellers E, Koren G. Use of hair analysis for confirmation of self-reported cocaine use in users with negative urine tests. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 2001;39(4):361–366. [PubMed]
  • Delaney-Black V, Covington C, Ostrea E, Jr, Romero A, Baker D, Tagle MT, Nordstrom-Klee B, Silvestre MA, Angelilli ML, Hack C, Long J. Prenatal cocaine and neonatal outcome: evaluation of dose-response relationship. Pediatrics. 1996 Oct;98(4 Pt 1):735–740. [PubMed]

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Are cannabinoids detected in hair after washing with Cannabio shampoo?

 J Anal Toxicol. 1999 Sep;23(5):349-51.

Cirimele V, Kintz P, Jamey C, Ludes B.

Institut de Médecine Légale, Strasbourg, France.

Abstract

Today, cannabis plants are used in shampoo preparations, in foodstuffs (e.g., oils, noodles, crackers, etc.), and in beverages (e.g., tea).

These products often contain < 1% delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in order to eliminate psychoactive effects, but some of them can include 1 to 3% of THC.

Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis of Cannabio shampoo revealed the presence of THC (412 ng/mL) and two constituents of cannabis plants, cannabidiol (CBD, 4079 ng/mL) and cannabinol (CBN, 380 ng/mL).

In order to verify if normal hygiene practices with Cannabio shampoo can result in positive tests for cannabinoids in hair, three subjects washed their hair with this shampoo once daily for two weeks. After this period, hair specimens were collected.

In the three hair specimens, THC, CBD, and CBN were never detected within their limits of detection, 0.05, 0.02, and 0.01 ng/mg, respectively.

We concluded that the use of Cannabis shampoo during normal hygiene practices cannot be considered as a source of potential contamination of hair.

In a second experiment, drug-free hair specimens (200 mg) were incubated in 10 mL water/Cannabio shampoo (20:1, v/v) for 30 min, 2 h, and 5 h.

After incubation, hair strands were washed with water and separated into two portions. One portion was extracted directly; the second was decontaminated with methylene chloride and then extracted.

After an incubation period of 30 min, the analysis of hair by GC-MS did not reveal the presence of THC, CBD, and CBN in hair, regardless of whether the hair was decontaminated.

After an incubation period of 2 h, specimens tested positive for CBD (0.11 ng/mg without decontamination and 0.10 ng/mg with decontamination) and CBN (0.02 ng/mg without decontamination and 0.02 ng/mg after decontamination).

After an incubation period of 5 h, specimens tested positive for CBD (0.25 ng/mg without decontamination and 0.14 ng/mg after decontamination) and CBN (0.02 ng/mg without decontamination and 0.02 ng/mg after decontamination).

In all cases, THC was never detected. Extensive but unrealistic use of Cannabio shampoo can cause drug-free hair to test positive for CBD and CBN but not for the primary psychoactive drug THC.

 

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Weather-induced changes in cannabinoid content of hair

Arch Kriminol. 2003 Jan-Feb;211(1-2):9-18.

 

Kury M, Skopp G, Mattern R.

Institut für Rechtsmedizin und Verkehrsmedizin, Universität Heidelberg.

Abstract

Authentic hair samples from Cannabis users and a drug free hair sample which was separately spiked with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) or cannabinol (CBN) were exposed outside as well as to natural sunlight at prevailing and elevated humidity in quartz glass tubes during 8 weeks. In addition, authentic and spiked hair samples were exposed to xenon arc radiation in a light exposure cabinet for 24 hours.

Stability of THC, CBD and CBN in authentic samples differed from that of the spiked hair. The radiation experiment revealed that CBN could not be measured in hair which had been spiked with THC. Under all conditions chosen the concentrations of THC, CBD and CBN decreased.

At high humidity the concentrations declined more rapidly. In both authentic and spiked samples THC was most unstable compared to CBD and CBN. Therefore, in hair analysis determination of CBD and CBN seems promising to detect Cannabis exposure even under unfavorable conditions.

 

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Deposition of cannabinoids in hair after long-term use of cannabis

Skopp G, Strohbeck-Kuehner P, Mann K, Hermann D

Institute of Legal Medicine and Traffic Medicine, Ruprecht-Karls University, Voss-Str. 2, 69115 Heidelberg, Germany.

Hair analysis has shown great potential in the detection and control of drug use. Whether an assay is of quantitative value roughly corresponding to the amount of drug consumed, is still a matter of debate.

The present investigation was aimed at a possible relationship between the cannabinoid concentration in hair and the cumulative dose in regular users of cannabis. Hair samples from the vertex region of the scalp were obtained from 12 male regular users of cannabis, and 10 male subjects with no experience of cannabis served as controls.

None of the subjects had his hair permed, bleached or colored. Cannabis users provided information on drug use such as the current cannabis dose per day, the cumulative cannabis dose of the last 3 months, as well as the frequency of cannabis use during the last year.

The concentration of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinol (CBN) and cannabidiol (CBD) in hair was determined using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Cannabinoids were present in any hair sample of cannabis users, but were not detectable in control specimens. An increase in the amount of cannabinoids in hair with increasing dose was evident.

The concentration of major cannabinoids (sum of THC, CBD and CBN) was significantly correlated to either the reported cumulative cannabis dose during the last 3 months or to the cannabis use during the last 3 months estimated from the daily dose and the frequency per year (r=0.68 or 0.71, p=0.023 or 0.014). A significant relationship between THC and the amount of cannabis used could not be established. As a conclusion, the sum of major cannabinoids in hair of regular users may provide a better measure of drug use than THC.

 

 

Gas Chromatography (Used in everything from drilling for oil & gas, to forensic science, to pee testing for marijuana) 

You can also test for the percentage of THC in marijuana to test for potency

images calgarycmmc

Published 4 July 2007 in Forensic Sci Int, 170(1): 46-50.
Full-text of this article is available online (may require subscription)

 

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