Development and Application of an Analytical Method for Cannabis

Open Access
Plessel, Rebecca Lynn
Area of Honors:
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Frank Dorman, Thesis Supervisor
  • Lorraine Santy, Honors Advisor
  • Cannabis
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Cannabinoids
  • Variance
  • Method
  • Medical Marijuana
  • Dose
Throughout history, cannabis has been used as a panacea, an herbal remedy for nearly all medical concerns from simple headaches to severe seizures. Now that many states have legalized medical cannabis, it is important to have analytical methods to study the compounds that the patients will be ingesting or inhaling. Our lab focused especially on the common five most concentrated cannabinoids: Δ-9-tertahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol, cannabinol, cannabigerol, and cannabichromene. The cannabinoids themselves have medical relevance and are helpful in the management of symptoms in patients with seizures and pain. With the increase in usage of cannabis for medical ailments, creating a method for analyzing these compounds is necessary for the regulation of the industry and safety of distribution. The cannabinoid analytical method was developed on a GC-FID using liquid injection, following sample extraction. Additional experiments using this method were performed to assess cannabinoid variance, as consistent dosing is difficult natural products in general, and cannabis, specifically. If the cannabis is not homogenized before administration, the patient could be underdosing or overdosing due to natural variance. To test this, we determined the concentrations of the five major cannabinoids in homogenized and non-homogenized cannabis samples. We found that homogenized cannabis has a lower variance than unhomogenized samples of the same plant. This suggests that the medical marijuana industry should be more tightly regulated, especially with regards to use of the actual natural product or plant tissue directly, as a simple change in sample preparation makes the drug dose much more consistent.