Deposition of cannabinoids in hair after long-term use of cannabis

Forensic Sci Int. 2007 Jul 20;170(1):46-50. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2006.09.003. Epub 2006 Nov 13.


Hair analysis has shown great potential in the detection and control of drug use. Whether an assay is of quantitative value roughly corresponding to the amount of drug consumed, is still a matter of debate. The present investigation was aimed at a possible relationship between the cannabinoid concentration in hair and the cumulative dose in regular users of cannabis. Hair samples from the vertex region of the scalp were obtained from 12 male regular users of cannabis, and 10 male subjects with no experience of cannabis served as controls. None of the subjects had his hair permed, bleached or colored. Cannabis users provided information on drug use such as the current cannabis dose per day, the cumulative cannabis dose of the last 3 months, as well as the frequency of cannabis use during the last year. The concentration of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinol (CBN) and cannabidiol (CBD) in hair was determined using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Cannabinoids were present in any hair sample of cannabis users, but were not detectable in control specimens. An increase in the amount of cannabinoids in hair with increasing dose was evident. The concentration of major cannabinoids (sum of THC, CBD and CBN) was significantly correlated to either the reported cumulative cannabis dose during the last 3 months or to the cannabis use during the last 3 months estimated from the daily dose and the frequency per year (r=0.68 or 0.71, p=0.023 or 0.014). A significant relationship between THC and the amount of cannabis used could not be established. As a conclusion, the sum of major cannabinoids in hair of regular users may provide a better measure of drug use than THC.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cannabinoids / analysis*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Forensic Toxicology
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Hair / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse / diagnosis*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Substance Abuse Detection
  • Time Factors


  • Cannabinoids