Date of Award

Spring 5-2010

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Criminal Justice


Criminal Justice, Forensic Science, and Security

Committee Chair

Thomas Pittman

Committee Chair Department

Criminal Justice

Committee Member 2

Kuppareddi Balamurugan

Committee Member 2 Department

Criminal Justice

Committee Member 3

Dean Bertram

Committee Member 3 Department

Criminal Justice


With the increasing use of marijuana, efficient methods to extract and detect Δ-9-THC in urine samples and relate the concentrations found to time is a necessity so that impairment can be determined. Δ-9-THC is conjugated to glucuronic acid in urine and must be freed before the compound can be detected by chromatographic procedures. In past research, either a strong alkaline solution or β-glucuronidase has been used to cleave the bond between the Δ-9-THC and glucuronic acid before an alkaline extraction. Δ-9-THC has a pKa of 10.6 and therefore is always extracted at an alkaline pH. In this study, both a strong solution ofNaOH and the enzyme were used to break the glucuronide bond in urine samples and the result obtained from each compared. This research first looked at the best treatment for the glucuronide bond and secondly, determined if the extraction could be completed at an acidic pH and still yield expected results. Fifty urine samples from known marijuana users were treated with NaOH and extracted at an alkaline pH; the same 50 samples were also treated with β-glucuronidase and extracted at an acidic pH. The results from this part of the experiment showed that not only did the NaOH not work as well as the enzyme, it did not cleave the bond at all. In order for a determination to be made about the pH of the extraction, the same 50 samples were all treated with β-glucuronidase and then made alkaline before extraction. For the two extractions using β-glucuronidase, t(.05)(100) = 0.283 for the height and t(.05)(100) = 0.277 for the area. The two extractions were proved to not be significantly different. The concentrations of Δ-9-THC in each sample were determined for both extractions. The t ratio for the concentrations was calculated and again determined to not be significantly different; t(.05)(100) = 0.241 which fell well below the acceptable value of significance.