Validated gas chromatographic-negative ion chemical ionization mass spectrometric method for delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol in sweat patches

Clin Chem. 2004 Nov;50(11):2083-90. doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2004.034868. Epub 2004 Jul 22.


Background: A sensitive gas chromatography-negative ion chemical ionization mass spectrometry (GC/MS-NICI) method was developed and validated for the measurement of Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in human sweat patches.

Methods: THC-d(0) and THC-d(3) were added to worn blank sweat patches (PharmChek; PharmChem Incorporated) and extracted with 3 mL of methanol-0.2 mol/L sodium acetate buffer (pH 5.0, 3:1 by volume) on a reciprocating shaker at ambient temperature for 30 min. Extracted solution (2 mL) was diluted with 8 mL of 0.1 mol/L sodium acetate buffer (pH 4.5) and extracted by use of solid-phase extraction columns (CleanScreen; United Chemical Technologies). Dried extracts were derivatized with trifluoroacetic acid and analyzed with an Agilent 6890 gas chromatograph interfaced with an Agilent 5973 mass selective detector operated in NICI-selected ion-monitoring mode.

Results: The lower limits of detection and quantification for THC in human sweat were 0.2 and 0.4 ng/patch, respectively. The calibration curve was linear from 0.4 to 10 ng/patch (R(2) >0.995). Overall recovery of THC from blank worn patches to which 0.6, 4.0, and 8.0 ng of THC had been added was 44-46%. Assay imprecision, expressed as CV, was <10% for 0.6, 4.0, and 8.0 ng/patch quality-control samples. Twenty-one potential interfering compounds (50 ng/patch) added to low quality-control samples (0.6 ng/patch) did not influence THC quantification.

Conclusions: This GC/MS-NICI assay for THC in human sweat provides adequate sensitivity and performance characteristics for analyzing THC in sweat patches and meets the requirements of the proposed Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration's guidelines for sweat testing.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Calibration
  • Dronabinol / analysis*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Marijuana Abuse / diagnosis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods*
  • Sweat / chemistry*


  • Dronabinol