Since 2004, a number of herbal blends containing different synthetic compounds mimicking the pharmacological activity of cannabinoids and displaying a high toxicological potential have appeared in the market. Their availability is mainly based on the so-called "e-commerce", being sold as legal alternatives to cannabis and cannabis derivatives. Although highly selective, sensitive, accurate, and quantitative methods based on GC-MS and LC-MS are available, they lack simplicity, rapidity, versatility and throughput, which are required for product monitoring. In this context, matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) offers a simple and rapid operation with high throughput. Thus, the aim of the present work was to develop a MALDI-TOF MS method for the rapid qualitative direct analysis of herbal blend preparations for synthetic cannabinoids to be used as front screening of confiscated clandestine preparations.
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