Vaping Synthetic Cannabinoids: Degradation Study and Putative Production of Toxic Compounds

Wigglesworth, Jessica (2020) Vaping Synthetic Cannabinoids: Degradation Study and Putative Production of Toxic Compounds. MRes thesis, University of Lincoln.

Vaping Synthetic Cannabinoids: Degradation Study and Putative Production of Toxic Compounds
WIG13466715 Jessica Wigglesworth Plus Electronic Submission.pdf - Whole Document

Item Type:Thesis (MRes)
Item Status:Live Archive


The misuse of controlled drugs is a major problem across many countries globally with a major part of this problem surrounding the misuse of cannabis. Recently, novel psychoactive substances, which originally started as ‘legal highs’, such as synthetic cannabinoids were developed to imitate the effectsof cannabis. Alongside this, recently, e-cigarettes that were initially developed as an alternative method for the delivery of nicotine, started to acquire the interest of various drug users. As this method proved successful in the delivery of nicotine, numerous users explored the potential of the delivery of illicit drugs. This method became especially popular amongst cannabis users, which in turn also became a popular method for the delivery of synthetic cannabinoids. Therefore, the aim of thesis was to investigate the degradation of synthetic cannabinoids, alongside the potential presence of harmful substances created during the vaping of synthetic cannabinoids when using an e-cigarette. This aim was achieved through several objectives. These included the preparation of numerous synthetic cannabinoid e-liquids, in which six ‘legal high’ products were used, utilising three different extraction techniques and vaping solvents. In addition, these objectives also included the design and set-up of a vaping simulation, in which all sections of the ‘vape’, including the vapour and aerosol that are produced from the vaping process, could be trapped and collected for analysis via GC-MS. All samples,
including the initial ‘legal high’ products, the prepared e-liquids and all post-vape samples were analysed via GC-MS, producing chemical profiles of each, which were scrutinised to observe the degradation of the synthetic cannabinoid and the possible production of harmful substances. Within the various ‘legal high’ products and e-liquids, six synthetic cannabinoids were identified, which included; 5F-PB-22, 5F-AKB48, AB-FUBINACA, BB-22, AB-CHMINACA and AKB48. From the analysis of the post-vape samples, it was indicated that four of these cannabinoids were able to withstand the vaping process and were transferred into the aerosol and vapour. Alongside this, it was established that further degradation of the cannabinoids occurred within the process as various degradation products were identified within these samples. In addition, two new species were identified within the post vape samples. These new species of indole and quinoline are thought to be produced as degradation products of 5F-PB-22 and were confirmed to be present within the samples. Furthermore, it is known that these substances are extremely toxic compounds and are thought to be very hazardous, causing a range of irritations, whilst having carcinogenic and mutagenic properties. Therefore, it was confirmed that some of the synthetic cannabinoids transfer through the vaping process into the aerosol and vapour, in addition to the further degradation of these cannabinoids and the production of new harmful substances that were produced solely through the vaping process.

Keywords:Vaping, Synthetic Cannabinoids, Degradation, Putative Production, Toxic Compounds
Subjects:F Physical Sciences > F100 Chemistry
Divisions:College of Science > School of Chemistry
ID Code:49984
Deposited On:28 Jun 2022 16:07

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