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Chemical and physical variations of cannabis smoke from a variety of cannabis samples in New Zealand.


Studies have compared the chemical properties of tobacco smoke to those of cannabis smoke, with the objective of identifying the chemical attributes responsible for the mutagenicity and carcinogenicity of cannabis smoke. Comparative studies have included small sample sizes and produced conflicting results. The aim of this study was to assess the major chemical and physical variations of cannabis smoke across a range of cannabis samples of different potencies and origins, sourced from the illegal market in New Zealand. Twelve cannabis samples were studied ranging from 1.0% to 13.4% delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9THC) content. A smoking machine was used to smoke “joints” (cannabis cigarettes) and the chemical/physical properties of the smoke assessed. The chemical constituents of the smoke extracts were analysed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. A range of different chemical constituents (in addition to Δ9THC) were identified and their concentrations estimated. Terpenoids were identified as the major variable in cannabis smoke, showing a 40-fold range in total terpenoid content. Analysis of the total particulate matter showed that significantly different levels of particulate matter were produced between the different cannabis samples, ranging from 14.6 to 66.3 mg/g of cannabis smoked. The Δ9THC delivery efficiency during smoking was also investigated and produced consistent results showing a mean and median of 12.6% and 10.8%, respectively, of the theoretically available Δ9THC (ranging from 7.2% to 28.0%).

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