The current analytical technology for the determination of New Psychoactive Substances in biological samples is still largely inadequate, because the immunoassays are unsuitable for the detection of most of these compounds and the use of traditional gas chromatography–mass spectrometry techniques is hampered by the lack of chromatographic standards and mass fragmentation patterns. Taking advantage of the molecular recognition capability of high-resolution mass spectrometry, the present work aimed to apply liquid chromatography-quadrupole-time of flight mass spectrometry for the rapid identification of New Psychoactive Substances in the hair, a peculiar tissue which “keeps memory” of the recent history of drug intake of the subject. All the samples were screened for the presence of 50 different New Psychoactive Substances (synthetic cannabinoids, cathinones and phenethylamines), substances that had been reported officially by the National Early Warning System in the period 2009–2011. Among the 435 samples analyzed, 8 were found “positive” for the following compounds: JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-081, JWH-250, JWH-122, in a broad range of concentrations (0.010–1.28 ng/mg). Results strongly support the use of hair analysis to monitor the diffusion of new psychoactive drugs in the community.
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