Terpene, Cannabinoid, and Pesticide Profiling with Vacuum Assisted Sorbent Extraction (VASE) Thermal Desorption-GCMS

Daniel B. Cardin, Entech Instruments, Inc, CA, USA
Sage J. B. Dunham, PhD, Entech Instruments, Inc., CA, USA
Victoria L. Noad, Entech Instruments, Inc., CA, USA

As legalization of medicinal and recreational cannabis spreads throughout the world there is a growing need for reliable analytical testing. Vital focuses for both the medicinal and recreational market include cannabinoids, terpenes, and residual contaminants such as pesticides. In the work described herein, we detail a series of methodologies for both quantitative and qualitative chemical analysis of several commercially available cannabis products – including cannabis flowers, edibles, and extracted oils – using vacuum assisted sorbent extraction (VASE) coupled to thermal desorption (TD) GCMS.

VASE combines the durability and large sorbent phase of thermal desorption tubes and the versatility of solid phase microextraction (SPME) with vacuum assisted extraction, resulting in a reliable and sensitive technique for headspace analysis of volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds.

Qualitative profiling of cannabis products is performed by direct VASE of analytes from the unadulterated samples followed by TD GCMS. Quantitative analysis is performed via homogenization in ice-cold solvent followed by dilution, VASE, and TD GCMS.

The hop flower was adulterated with several cannabinoid standards, including cannabidiol and ∆-9-tetrahydracannabidiol prior to analytical testing.

Our results show that cannabis strains can be easily differentiated by their terpene profiles, demonstrating that VASE-TD-GC-MS is an ideal measurement tool for a diverse assortment of cannabis compounds.

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