Financial support provided by the Belgian Science Policy (Belspo), GEOCAN Project DR-00-48.
Evolution of the Content of THC and Other Major Cannabinoids in Drug-Type Cannabis Cuttings and Seedlings During Growth of Plants*
Article first published online: 5 MAR 2012
© 2012 American Academy of Forensic Sciences
Journal of Forensic Sciences
Volume 57, Issue 4, pages 918–922, July 2012
How to Cite
De Backer, B., Maebe, K., Verstraete, A. G. and Charlier, C. (2012), Evolution of the Content of THC and Other Major Cannabinoids in Drug-Type Cannabis Cuttings and Seedlings During Growth of Plants. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 57: 918–922. doi: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2012.02068.x
- Issue published online: 2 JUL 2012
- Article first published online: 5 MAR 2012
- Received 22 Dec. 2010; and in revised form 22 April 2011; accepted 30 April 2011.
- forensic science;
- forensic toxicology;
- plant analysis;
- high-performance liquid chromatography–diode array detection
Abstract: In Europe, authorities frequently ask forensic laboratories to analyze seized cannabis plants to prove that cultivation was illegal (drug type and not fiber type). This is generally done with mature and flowering plants. However, authorities are often confronted with very young specimens. The aim of our study was to evaluate when the chemotype of cannabis plantlets can be surely determined through analysis of eight major cannabinoids content during growth. Drug-type seedlings and cuttings were cultivated, sampled each week, and analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography with diode array detection. The chemotype of clones was recognizable at any developmental stage because of high total Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentrations even at the start of the cultivation. Conversely, right after germination seedlings contained a low total THC content, but it increased quickly with plant age up, allowing chemotype determination after 3 weeks. In conclusion, it is not necessary to wait for plants’ flowering to identify drug-type cannabis generally cultivated in Europe.