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Analytica Chimica Acta
Vol. 874, 2015, Pages: 11–25

Determination and identification of synthetic cannabinoids and their metabolites in different matrices by modern analytical techniques – a review

Joanna Znaleziona, Pavlína Ginterová, Jan Petr, Peter Ondra, Ivo Válka, Juraj Ševcík, Jan Chrastina, Vítezslav Maier

Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials, Department of Analytical Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Palacký University, 17. Listopadu 12, Olomouc CZ-77146, Czech Republic.


Synthetic cannabinoids have gained popularity due to their easy accessibility and psychoactive effects. Furthermore, they cannot be detected in urine by routine drug monitoring. The wide range of active ingredients in analyzed matrices hinders the development of a standard analytical method for their determination. Moreover, their possible side effects are not well known which increases the danger.

This review is focused on the sample preparation and the determination of synthetic cannabinoids in different matrices (serum, urine, herbal blends, oral fluid, hair) published since 2004. The review includes separation and identification techniques, such as thin layer chromatography, gas and liquid chromatography and capillary electrophoresis, mostly coupled with mass spectrometry. The review also includes results by spectral methods like infrared spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance or direct-injection mass spectrometry.

Graphical abstract

Keywords: Biological matrices; Herbal blends; New designer drugs; Separation methods; Mass spectrometry; Synthetic cannabinoids.

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