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Analyzing Salvia Divinorum and its Active Ingredient Salvinorin A Utilizing Thin Layer Chromatography and Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry

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In recent years, Salvia divinorum has become a major focus by state legislatures throughout the United States looking to prohibit the sale of the psychoactive plant. After researching testing procedures presented in the literature and those employed by crime laboratories throughout the country, it was decided that thin layer chromatography (TLC) and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) were the methods to use to analyze plant material for salvinorin A. With TLC, salvinorin A was detected from extracted plant material and was easily distinguishable from 13 other Salvia species as well as Cannabis sativa L. (marijuana). When using GC/MS, salvinorin A was best extracted from plant material with chloroform at ambient temperature when using a nonpolar solvent and acetone at ambient temperature when using a polar solvent. By utilizing these techniques, criminalists are now able to confirm the presence of salvinorin A in a submitted plant material suspected to be Salvia divinorum.

Keywords: Salvia; Salvia divinorum; forensic science; marijuana; salvinorin A; salvinorins

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Scientific Investigations Division, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, 200 South Lena Road, San Bernardino, CA 92415.

Publication date: 2009-05-01

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