We characterize cannabinoid disposition in oral fluid (OF) after Dronabinol, synthetic oral Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and Sativex, a cannabis-extract oromucosal spray, and evaluate whether smoked cannabis relapse or Sativex compliance can be identified with OF cannabinoid monitoring.
5 and 15 mg synthetic oral THC, low (5.4 mg THC, 5.0 mg cannabidiol (CBD)) and high (16.2 mg THC, 15.0 mg CBD) dose Sativex, and placebo were administered in random order (n=14). Oral fluid specimens were collected for 10.5h after dosing and analyzed for THC, CBD, cannabinol (CBN), and 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC (THCCOOH).
After oral THC, OF THC concentrations decreased over time from baseline, reflecting residual THC excretion from previously self-administered smoked cannabis. CBD and CBN also were rarely detected. After Sativex, THC, CBD and CBN increased greatly, peaking at 0.25–1h. Median CBD/THC and CBN/THC ratios were 0.82–1.34 and 0.04–0.06, respectively, reflecting cannabinoids’ composition in Sativex. THCCOOH/THC ratios within 4.5h post Sativex were ≤1.6 pg/ng, always lower than after oral THC and placebo. THCCOOH/THC ratios increased throughout each dosing session.
Lack of measurable THC, CBD and CBN in OF following oral THC, and high OF CBD/THC ratios after Sativex distinguish oral and sublingual drug delivery routes from cannabis smoking. Low THCCOOH/THC ratios suggest recent Sativex and smoked cannabis exposure. These data indicate that OF cannabinoid monitoring can document compliance with Sativex pharmacotherapy, and identify relapse to smoked cannabis during oral THC medication but not Sativex treatment, unless samples were collected shortly after smoking.
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