Temporal indication of cannabis use by means of THC glucuronide determination

Drug Test Anal. 2009 Nov;1(11-12):505-10. doi: 10.1002/dta.106.


According to the regulations of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the use of cannabinoids is forbidden in competition. In doping controls, the detection of cannabinoid misuse is based on the analysis of the non-psychoactive metabolite 11-nor-9-carboxy-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (carboxy-THC). The determination of values greater than 15 ng/mL in urine represents an adverse analytical finding; however, no accurate prediction of the time of application is possible as the half-life of carboxy-THC ranges between three and four days. Consequently the detection of carboxy-THC in doping control urine samples collected in competition might also result from cannabis use in out-of-competition periods. The analysis of the glucuronide of the pharmacologically active delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-gluc) may represent a complementary indicator for the detection of cannabis misuse in competition.An assay for the determination of THC-gluc in human urine was established. The sample preparation consisted of liquid-liquid extraction of urine specimens, and extracts were analysed by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Authentic doping-control urine samples as well as specimens obtained from a controlled smoking study were analysed and assay characteristics such as specificity, detection limit (0.1 ng/mL), precision (>90%), recovery ( approximately 80%), and extraction efficiency (90%) were determined.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods
  • Doping in Sports*
  • Dronabinol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Dronabinol / pharmacokinetics*
  • Dronabinol / urine
  • Glucuronides / urine*
  • Humans
  • Marijuana Smoking / urine*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Time Factors


  • Glucuronides
  • Dronabinol