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Keywords:

  • forensic science;
  • stable isotope ratio;
  • heavy isotopes;
  • drug intelligence;
  • Cannabis sativa;
  • thermal ionization mass spectrometry;
  • sourcing

Abstract:  Effectively addressing marijuana trade is aided by understanding marijuana geographic sources. We analyzed the 87Sr/86Sr of marijuana samples grown in 79 counties across the United States to determine if a primary geologic signal is retained in marijuana, which could therefore be useful for geographic sourcing. The marijuana results were compared with modeled bedrock 87Sr/86Sr values based on 87Rb decay rates and a generalized geologic map of the U.S.A. A significant correlation was observed between marijuana 87Sr/86Sr and modeled bedrock 87Sr/86Sr. Although values clustered near the 1:1 relationship, there was a predominance of positive anomalies, perhaps attributable to carbonate bedrock. A small number of negative anomalies were also observed, which were generally associated with granitic bedrocks. These results suggest that strontium isotopes in marijuana record the geographic origins of marijuana, and that refinement of the base strontium map (or strontium isoscape) and improved understanding of other strontium sources would be productive.