University of Illinois at Chicago
GARZA-THESIS-2019.pdf (3.81 MB)

Detection of Nano-encapsulated Cannabis via Color Test, Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry, and Dogs

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posted on 2019-08-06, 00:00 authored by Evan J Garza
Nanoparticles have been utilized for millennia by human beings. One of their present-day uses is for drug-delivery in the field of biomedicine. Cannabis possesses a multitude of medical purposes but is difficult to dispense into the human body due to its hydrophobicity and poor bioavailability. Incorporation into polymer nanoparticles is one method utilized to overcome this obstacle. Use of these technologies illegally, such as for drug trafficking, may be problematic for law enforcement. Therefore, adjustments are potentially necessary to current protocol to ensure drugs trafficked using nanoparticles can still be detected. Four methods were used for detection. The modified Duquenois test, TLC, GC-MS and narcotic dogs. TLC proved inefficient at identifying the cannabis within the polymer shell and was eventually discarded. The modified Duquenois test initially was unsuccessfully but later the protocol was amended slightly with an additional step included in the beginning of the protocol. Prior to applying the petroleum ether to the nanoparticles, they are broken down with NaOH to eliminate the polymer. Then the rest of the procedure was then conducted regularly producing positive results. GC-MS analysis proved useful in identifying THC and CBD loaded within the nanoparticles while quantification proved trickier. Detector dogs were able to key in on the odor of both the nanoparticles blanks and the nanoparticles loaded with THC and CBD. The results of this study should prove useful for law enforcement, especially field agents who are responsible for confiscating narcotics and other illicit drugs. The study should also increase confidence in the efficacy of detector dogs.



Larsen, Albert K


Larsen, Albert K


Biopharmaceutical Sciences

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level

  • Masters

Committee Member

Hall, Ashley Gemeinhart, Richard

Submitted date

May 2019

Issue date


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