The influence of drying and storage conditions on the volatilome and cannabinoid content of Cannabis sativa L. inflorescences

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2024 Jul;416(16):3797-3809. doi: 10.1007/s00216-024-05321-w. Epub 2024 May 3.


The increasing interest in hemp and cannabis poses new questions about the influence of drying and storage conditions on the overall aroma and cannabinoids profile of these products. Cannabis inflorescences are subjected to drying shortly after harvest and then to storage in different containers. These steps may cause a process of rapid deterioration with consequent changes in precious secondary metabolite content, negatively impacting on the product quality and potency. In this context, in this work, the investigation of the effects of freeze vs tray drying and three storage conditions on the preservation of cannabis compounds has been performed. A multi-trait approach, combining both solid-phase microextraction (SPME) two-dimensional gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (SPME-GC × GC-MS) and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), is presented for the first time. This approach has permitted to obtain the detailed characterisation of the whole cannabis matrix in terms of volatile compounds and cannabinoids. Moreover, multivariate statistical analyses were performed on the obtained data, helping to show that freeze drying conditions is useful to preserve cannabinoid content, preventing decarboxylation of acid cannabinoids, but leads to a loss of volatile compounds which are responsible for the cannabis aroma. Furthermore, among storage conditions, storage in glass bottle seems more beneficial for the retention of the initial VOC profile compared to open to air dry tray and closed high-density polyethylene box. However, the glass bottle storage condition causes formation of neutral cannabinoids at the expenses of the highly priced acid forms. This work will contribute to help define optimal storage conditions useful to produce highly valuable and high-quality products.

Keywords: Cannabinoids; GC × GC; HPLC; Hierarchical cluster analysis; PCA; SPME; Terpenes; Volatile organic compounds.

MeSH terms

  • Cannabinoids* / analysis
  • Cannabis* / chemistry
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods
  • Desiccation / methods
  • Freeze Drying / methods
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry* / methods
  • Inflorescence / chemistry
  • Solid Phase Microextraction* / methods
  • Volatile Organic Compounds* / analysis


  • Cannabinoids
  • Volatile Organic Compounds