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Urinary Cannabinoid Detection Times after Controlled Oral Administration of Delta(9)-Tetrahydrocannabinol to Humans
Urinary cannabinoid excretion and immunoassay performance were evaluated by semiquantitative immunoassay and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS) analysis of metabolite concentrations in 4381 urine specimens collected before, during, and after controlled oral administration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). METHODS: Seven individuals received 0, 0.39, 0.47, 7.5, and 14.8 mg THC/day in this double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, clinical study conducted on a closed research ward. THC doses (hemp oils with various THC concentrations and the therapeutic drug Marinol((R))) were administered three times daily for 5 days. All urine voids were collected over the 10-week study and later tested by Emit II((R)), DRI((R)), and CEDIA((R)) immunoassays and by GC/MS. Detection rates, detection times, and sensitivities, specificities, and efficiencies of the immunoassays were determined. RESULTS: At the federally mandated immunoassay cutoff (50 micro g/L), mean detection rates were <0.2% during ingestion of the two low doses typical of current hemp oil THC concentrations. The two high doses produced mean detection rates of 23-46% with intermittent positive tests up to 118 h. Maximum metabolite concentrations were 5.4-38.2 micro g/L for the low doses and 19.0-436 micro g/L for the high doses. Emit II, DRI, and CEDIA immunoassays had similar performance efficiencies of 92.8%, 95.2%, and 93.9%, respectively, but differed in sensitivity and specificity. CONCLUSIONS: The use of cannabinoid-containing foodstuffs and cannabinoid-based therapeutics, and continued abuse of oral cannabis require scientific data for accurate interpretation of cannabinoid tests and for making reliable administrative drug-testing policy. At the federally mandated cannabinoid cutoffs, it is possible but unlikely for a urine specimen to test positive after ingestion of manufacturer-recommended doses of low-THC hemp oils. Urine tests have a high likelihood of being positive after Marinol therapy. The Emit II and DRI assays had adequate sensitivity and specificity, but the CEDIA assay failed to detect many true-positive specimens.
Gustafson RA, Levine B, Stout PR, Klette KL, George MP, Moolchan ET, Huestis MA.