Dashed line indicates limit of quantitation. *P = 0.0156, group comparison.
THC was the major cannabinoid in breath; no sample contained THCCOOH and only 1 contained CBN. Among chronic smokers (n = 13), all breath samples were positive for THC at 0.89 h, 76.9% at 1.38 h, and 53.8% at 2.38 h, and only 1 sample was positive at 4.2 h after smoking. Among occasional smokers (n = 11), 90.9% of breath samples were THC-positive at 0.95 h and 63.6% at 1.49 h. One occasional smoker had no detectable THC. Analyte recovery from breath pads by methanolic extraction was 84.2%–97.4%. Limits of quantification were 50 pg/pad for THC and CBN and 100 pg/pad for THCCOOH. Solid-phase extraction efficiency was 46.6%–52.1% (THC) and 76.3%–83.8% (THCCOOH, CBN). Matrix effects were −34.6% to 12.3%. Cannabinoids fortified onto breath pads were stable (≤18.2% concentration change) for 8 h at room temperature and −20°C storage for 6 months.
Breath may offer an alternative matrix for testing for recent driving under the influence of cannabis, but is limited to a short detection window (0.5–2 h).
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