Qualifying Cannabis Using Thin Layer Chromatography


  • Courtney LaPointe


The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, legalizing cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC (Hemp), creates problems for law enforcement. Due to the conflicting legality of cannabis across the United States and emerging use of hemp by the public, law enforcement needs to acquire the ability to distinguish between hemp and marijuana using a presumptive test kit. Our approach involves the development of an efficient, mobile, simple, thin layer chromatography (TLC) kit that provides presumptive (qualitative) forensic evidence of the chemical contents of a bud, oil, or edible. The evidence would later be sent to a crime lab for definitive analysis of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, the psychoactive compound in marijuana. Preliminary research has focused on the utilization of silica TLC plates, a mobile phase made up of 1:2, dichloroethane and chloroform, and a commercial stain. CBD and THC are clearly resolved under these conditions by TLC.