All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Elizabeth Gardner

Advisory Committee Members

Jason Linville

Erin Shonsey

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2020

Degree Name by School

Master of Science in Forensic Science (MSFS) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

The first synthetic cannabinoid was developed in the late 1980s by chemist John W. Huffman in an effort to understand the two cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2). The cannabinoid receptors are not only involved in the high experienced by marijuana users, but also the control of appetite, pain, and sleep. While the development of synthetic cannabinoids led to a greater understanding of the cannabinoid receptors, it also precipitated an entirely new drug market. Clandestine chemists hijack scientific research, using methods published in scientific articles to synthesize cannabinoids for distribution in the gray market. Products containing synthetic cannabinoids are marketed as Spice, herbal blends, or incense. The products are labeled “to be used as incense” and “not for human consumption” in an effort to circumvent drug laws and regulations. The average Spice product can contain over a dozen synthetic cannabinoids of varying concentrations. The focus of this project is to validate a method for the analysis of the synthetic cannabinoid 5-fluoro PB-22 in drug chemistry as well as separate it from its 13 isomers using gas chromatography mass spectrometry. This validation includes studies to determine the limit of detection, the accuracy of identification, and specificity of the assay. The isomers of 5-fluoro PB-22 that were examined included five hydroxyquinoline isomers, five hydroxyisoquinoline isomers, and three N-(fluoropentyl) isomers. Casework is also simulated using previously confiscated samples submitted by law enforcement to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences.

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