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Archiv fur Kriminologie

[Interpretation of blood analysis data found after passive exposure to cannabis].


PMID 20506708

Abstract

When defendants are confronted with evidence of cannabinoids in their blood suggesting consumption of cannabis they sometimes argue that this could only be due to a passive exposure. The small number of controlled studies available showed that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient of cannabis, was actually found in the blood after passive exposure to cannabis smoke. The resulting blood concentrations were dependent on the applied THC doses and the size of the room in which the passive exposure occurred. However, the quantitative data indicated in the publications of the 1980s cannot be fully compared with the results of modern analytical methods. Due to the rapid distribution of THC in the body, which occurs also after passive exposure to low doses, the THC concentration in serum to be expected in a blood sample taken 1 hour after exposure is less than 1 ng/mL. For assessment of an alleged passive exposure, the metabolic THC-carboxylic acid, which is excreted more slowly, must also be taken into account. After passive exposure, similar and very low serum concentrations of THC and THC-carboxylic acid are to be expected (< 2 ng/mL), while higher blood levels suggest the deliberate consumption of a psychoactive dose.