Detection of cannabinoids in hair after cosmetic application of hemp oil

Sci Rep. 2019 Feb 22;9(1):2582. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-39609-0.


The detection of cannabis constituents and metabolites in hair is an established procedure to provide evidence of exposure to cannabis. We present the first known evidence to suggest that applying hemp oil to hair, as cosmetic treatment, may result in the incorporation of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinol (CBN), cannabidiol (CBD) and in one instance, the metabolite 11-hydroxy-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-OH). 10 volunteers treated their head hair daily with commercially available hemp oil for a period of 6 weeks. Head hair samples were collected before and after the application period. Hair samples were washed with methanol and subjected to clean up via liquid/liquid and solid phase extraction procedures, and then GC-MS/MS for the analysis of THC, CBN, CBD, THC-OH and THC-COOH. Application of hemp oil to hair resulted in the incorporation of one or more cannabis constituents in 89% of volunteers, and 33% of the group tested positive for the three major constituents, THC, CBN and CBD. One volunteer showed low levels of the metabolite THC-OH. We suggest that cosmetic use of hemp oil should be recorded when sampling head hair for analysis, and that the interpretative value of cannabinoid hair measurements from people reporting application of hemp oil is treated with caution in both criminology and public health.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cannabinoids / analysis*
  • Cannabis / metabolism*
  • Cosmetics / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Hair / chemistry*
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Plant Oils / chemistry*
  • Specimen Handling / methods
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods*
  • Young Adult


  • Cannabinoids
  • Cosmetics
  • Plant Oils