Hemp Seed Oil Products Synthetic THC Medication and Drug Testing

The question of whether the consumption of cannabinoid-containing foodstuffs or cannabinoid-based therapeutics could be used to justify the presence of urinary THC-COOH has been extensively investigated and reported in the literature (70,110,136-144). A number of studies in 1997 clearly showed that ingestion of what were commercially available hemp seed oils could produce positive cannabinoid immunoassay results for several days (137-140). These screen-positive specimens were shown to contain THC-COOH by GC/MS in most of the studies (137-139). Later studies indicated that there has been a significant reduction in the THC concentration of hemp food products. These studies observed only occasional screen-positive samples and showed decreased levels of urinary THC-COOH with shortened detection time (141,142). In addition, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Justice Department added an interpretive rule to 21 CFR Part 1308. DEA interprets the Controlled Substances Act and DEA regulations to declare any product that contains any amount of THC to be a schedule I controlled substance, even if such product is made from portions of the Cannabis plant that are excluded from the Controlled Substances Act definition of "marihuana'' (145). However, a number of sources still exist globally that may provide hemp oils with considerable THC concentration.

Oral ingestion of prescribed synthetic THC medication (dronabinol [Marinol®]) can also produce positive results for cannabinoid testing. Immunoassays alone cannot determine if a positive result could be solely a result of the use of synthetic THC. Importantly, ElSohly et al. (140,141) demonstrated that A9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), the C3 homolog of A9-THC, is a marker for the ingestion of marijuana or a related product. THCV is a natural product that exists only in Cannabis plants with THC. Thus, the detection of THCV-COOH in plasma and urine specimens would indicate the use or ingestion of cannabis-related products and would not support claims of the sole use of Marinol (143,144).

Recently, Gustafson et al. (70) studied urinary pharmacokinetics of THC-COOH after controlled clinical study of multiple-dose oral THC administration. Varying THC

doses were administered through gelatin capsule and liquid hemp oil, along with THC in sesame oil, to examine effects of dose, vehicle type, and form. The maximum THC-COOH concentration ranges in urine samples were 7.3-38.2, 5.4-31, 26-436, and 19264 ng/mL for THC daily doses of 0.39, 0.47, 7.5, and 14.8 mg, respectively. Following the administration of these daily THC doses, the mean urinary terminal elimination half-lives averaged 50.3 ± 17.4, 44.2 ± 19.4, 64.0 ± 22.5, and 52.1 ± 21.8 hours, respectively.

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