Cannabis Sativa


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Subject: Cannabis Sativa

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  • An aromatic annual plant with origins in central Asia. The plant is known to contain 61 cannabinoids, including delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC) and cannabidiol.

  • Other names: marijuana, hashish, hash, sinsemilla, pot, grass.


  • No federally recognized medical use (schedule I, Controlled Substances Act)

  • Self-administered for its mood-altering properties—stimulant/depressant at low doses; CNS depressant at high doses


  • Screening assays are commonly immunoassay based.

    • ELISA for blood, serum, plasma

      • Target analyte: delta-9-THC

      • Cutoff concentration–variable 2–5 ng/mL

      • May exhibit significant cross-reactivity with 11-hydroxy-THC, carboxy-THC [THC-COOH]

      • Low cross-reactivity with cannabidiol, cannabinol, delta-8-THC

    • EIA for urine

      • Target analyte: THC-COOH (metabolite)

      • Cutoff concentration: 20 ng/mL, 50 ng/mL

      • Approximately 50% cross-reactivity with cannabinol, 11-OH-THC

  • Confirmation assays are commonly chromatography based regardless of specimen

    • Highly glucuronidated–hydrolysis recommended for analysis of urine

    • Urine confirmation assays typically target only THC-COOH; limit of detection/quantitation is 5–15 ng/mL

    • GC/MS: selected ion -monitoring mode for quantitative analysis of serum, plasma for THC, 11-OH-THC, THC-COOH; limits of quantitation: 1–5 ng/mL.

    • LC/MSn (multiple MS).

      • Multiple reaction–monitoring mode for qualitative or quantitative analysis of THC, 11-OH-THC, THC-COOH

      • Limits of detection/quantitation: 0.5–5 ng/mL