Screening of Danish traffic cases for synthetic cannabinoids in whole blood by LC-MS/MS

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A target screening method for the detection of 13 synthetic cannabinoids in whole blood was developed and validated. Samples underwent automated solid-phase extraction, and sample extracts were analyzed by liquid chromatography-positive electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry using two transitions in multiple reaction monitoring mode. The limit of detection was between 0.1-2.5 ng/mL for the compounds except HU-210, and extraction recovery ranged from 59 to 78%. The method was used to screen 393 Danish traffic cases from 2012, where the driver was suspected of driving under the influence of drugs. No synthetic cannabinoids were identified in these samples. Additionally, the method was applied to a clinical intoxication case, and the synthetic cannabinoid AM- 2201 was identified in serum. We conclude that the prevalence of driving under the influence of synthetic cannabinoids in Denmark is likely to be low, and that synthetic cannabinoids are most likely to be encountered in the clinical setting.

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