The Cannabinoids Story: History, Products, Analytics, and the Crime Lab

The Cannabinoids Story: History, Products, Analytics, and the Crime Lab

Michelle Peace
(Justin Poklis &
Mikaela Romanelli)
Virginia Commonwealth University

Course: SC112

1/2 Day Course

Beginner Level

Wednesday: 03/20/2019

Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Quality/Regulatory/Compliance, Forensics

$350 ($475 after 2/25/19)

More Course Info

Course Description

Currently 46 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use. The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance. Therefore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate formulations or products that contain marijuana/or marijuana extracts in states that have “legalized” marijuana. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two most common cannabinoids found in formulations and products. Research-based synthetic cannabinoids and cannabimimetics display a high affinity to cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) and can produce powerful THC-like intoxication. These substances have been touted as “legal highs” and have created significant toxicological emergencies and deaths.

This workshop will describe the array of cannabinoid products available in retail outlets or via the internet, such as e-liquids, waxes, dabs and their associated mechanisms of drug delivery, such as electronic cigarettes. The advent of marijuana edibles, or medibles, and the analytical challenges of these products will also be discussed.

Given the reemergence of synthetic cannabinoids and cannabimimetics as abused drugs, the history of these substances will be discussed, in the context of their legal and analytical challenges.

This workshop will also present analytical challenges in legalized products and in forensic science. Where THC and/or CBD are legal, methods of analysis to assure potency, quality, and safety will be described. An overview of analytical methods for marijuana products and synthetic cannabinoids where THC and CBD are illegal will be discussed from a crime lab perspective. The impact of legislation on analytical requirements and courtroom testimony will also be described.

Target Audience

This workshop could be of interest to novice and intermediate level participants, particularly given some focus on synthetic cannibinoids, quality assurance of legal products, and applications in the crime lab. The presentation of these perspectives is sufficiently novel, even for those who are intermediate or advanced in their analytical competency.

Course Outline

Presentation 1 (45 minutes)(Peace): The Products – From Inhalation to Edibles

Presentation 2 (45-50 minutes)(Poklis): Not Your Grandfather’s Pot – from Research to Abuse

Presentation 3 (45-50 minutes)(Mackowsky): Assuring Quality in Legal Cannabinoid Products

Presentation 4 (45-50 minutes)(Romanelli): The Challenges of Cannabinoids in the Crime Lab

Instructor Biography

Michelle Peace
Dr. Peace is an Associate Professor for the Department of Forensic Science at VCU (FEPAC-accredited). She is one of the founding faculty for the Department and has served as Associate Chair for more than 4 years. She also served as the Interim Chair for 4 years, expanding the faculty, physical space, and research initiatives in the Department. Dr. Peace has served as a manager in a private HHS-NLCP forensic drug testing laboratory and has worked as a scientist for Procter & Gamble, where she holds 3 patents. Dr. Peace is currently the PI for an NIJ grant studying the efficacy of electronic cigarettes, particularly as they pertain to substance use and abuse. Dr. Peace served on the Scientific Working Group for Forensic Toxicology (SWGTOX) for 4 years to help develop standards in the practice of forensic toxicology. She is currently the President of the Society of Forensic Toxicologists (SOFT), and is a member of the Toxicology Section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. She is also a member of the National Safety Council’s Alcohol, Drugs, and Impaired Driving Division.

Justin Poklis
Justin Poklis received a Bachelors of Science in Chemistry for Virginia Commonwealth University in 1996. His is a certified Forensic Toxicologist by the American Board of Forensic Toxicology and is presently the manager of the Pharmacology & Toxicology Mass Spectrometer Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University. Mr. Poklis has contributed over 75 peer review publication and over 100 abstracts to scientific meetings. Prior to accepting his present position he was a Toxicologist at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina, worked for the Aerosol Research Group at Virginia Commonwealth University, the Medical College of Virginia Hospitals Toxicology Laboratories and Scientific Test Laboratory, a SAMSHA certified drug testing Laboratory.

Danielle Mackowsky
Danielle Mackowsky is a technical marketing specialist at UCT. This position allows her to travel and meet with cannabis scientists to discuss sample preparation techniques and conduct educational workshops on analytical methods. With a background in forensics, Danielle has helped to introduce the concept of QuEChERS to the toxicology community as they begin to take a heightened interest in cannabis extractions. Along with other members of the research and development team at UCT, she has been at the forefront of sample preparation methods for the cannabis industry. Danielle utilizes her previous experience of working in production laboratories to help streamline the sample preparation process for clients in a variety of laboratory settings. She received her B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh and her M.S. from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she focused her studies on forensic toxicology and drug analysis.

Mikaela Romanelli
Mikaela Romanelli is a Forensic Scientist 3 for the Philadelphia Police Department Office of Forensic Science. As a member of the drug chemistry laboratory, Mikaela and her colleagues have witnessed firsthand the growth of designer drug usage and the presence of marijuana extract products in the greater Philadelphia region. She has trained police officers on drug identification and best practices for preliminary field tests. Mikaela has completed DEA and NES sponsored training in basic clandestine laboratory identification and dismantling. She is certified for the Level A clandestine laboratory response team. Mikaela received her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Tulane University and her Master’s degree in Forensic Science from Virginia Commonwealth University.