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The identification of synthetic cannabinoids in English prisons

ABBOTT, Mia, DUNNETT, Jodie, WHEELER, John and DAVIDSON, Alison (2023) The identification of synthetic cannabinoids in English prisons. Forensic Science International. ISSN 0379-0738

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Abstract or description

Synthetic cannabinoids (SC) are extremely prevalent within the prison system and cause problems for prisoners, law enforcement and health services. SC are often soaked into paper then posted into prisons therefore one of the aims of this research is to collaborate with Rapiscan Systems Ltd. and local prisons in England to measure the effectiveness of trace detection methods for the indication of SC in prison post using the Itemiser 3E®. To ensure compounds did not go undetected, samples with Ion Trap Mobility Spectrometry™ peaks indicative of synthetic cannabinoids on the Itemiser 3E® were analysed using Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry, Liquid Chromatography-Quadrupole Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy to identify chemical characteristics which allowed comparison to reference spectra. Sample data spanning three years from one prison’s Itemiser 3E® were collated to identify trends in drug prevalence and the influence of library updates. To date, the method has identified four compounds: 5F-MDMB-PICA, MMB-4en-PICA, 4F-MDMB-BUTINACA and MDMB-4en-PINACA on prison post which were not already included on, or needed confirmatory analysis to update, the Itemiser 3E® library. As a result, the libraries on prison Itemiser 3E®s have been updated to ensure future detection of such compounds. Trends and influences from the processed Itemiser 3E® data were also reported back to the West Midlands Prison Group. This research directly benefitted both the West Midlands Prison Group and Rapiscan Systems Ltd. and it is anticipated that the continuation of this research could be expanded to a national scale.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Synthetic cannabinoid; new psychoactive substance; prison; paper; Ion Mobility Spectrometry; chromatography.
Faculty: School of Law, Policing and Forensics > Forensic Sciences and Policing
Depositing User: Mia ABBOTT
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2023 15:16
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2023 11:00

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