Validation of the 4-aminophenol color test for the differentiation of marijuana-type and hemp-type cannabis.
The analysis of cannabis plant material submitted to seized-drug laboratories was significantly affected by the signing of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, which defined hemp and removed it from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. As a result, field law enforcement personnel and forensic laboratories now are in need of implementing new protocols that can distinguish between marijuana-type and hemp-type cannabis. Colorimetric tests provide a cost-effective and efficient manner to presumptively identify materials prior to submission to a laboratory for analysis. This work presents the validation of the 4-aminophenol (4-AP) color test and demonstrates its utility for discriminating between marijuana-type and hemp-type cannabis (i.e., typification). Validation studies included the testing of numerous cannabinoid reference materials, household herbs, previously characterized cannabis plant samples, and real-case samples. The 4-AP test reliably produces a pink result when the level of Δ9 -tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is approximately three times lower than the level of cannabidiol (CBD). A blue result is generated when the level of THC is approximately three times higher than that of CBD. Inconclusive results are observed when the levels of THC and CBD are within a factor of three from each other, demonstrating the limitations of the test under those scenarios.
© 2020 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.
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