Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 8-7-2021


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Chemistry and Biochemistry


Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Committee Chair

Stephanie Wetzel

Committee Member

H.M. Skip Kingston

Committee Member

Michael Cascio

Committee Member

Frederick Fochtman


spice, K2, bath salts, drug panel, drugs of abuse, liquid-liquid extraction


The compounds and chemical compositions of synthetic cannabinoids and designer cathinones are designed to mimic the intoxicating effects of D9-tetrahydrocannabinol and amphetamines, respectively. In order to skirt existing drug laws, non-controlled ingredients are used, and the original chemical structures of current drugs are being modified using analogs or derivatives. These continually changing chemical compositions pose a problem for policymakers, and forensic and analytical scientists, as users are able to attain a “legal high” and avoid detection in standard drug screens. Commonly, toxicology laboratories utilize a screening method, such as immunoassay, for the presumptive identification of designer drugs. When a screening method yields a positive result, a confirmatory method, such as liquid chromatography (LC) or gas chromatography (GC) coupled with mass spectrometry (MS), is applied to quantify the compound present more sensitively and specifically. Current analytical methods analyze synthetic cannabinoids and designer cathinones are using separate methods. The first major task of this research was to utilize a liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) process to move both synthetic cannabinoids and designer cathinones into the same sample for a single method of analysis on the LC-triple quadrupole-MS (LC-QqQ-MS). In order to increase peak capacity and eliminate a sample cleanup step, the second major task was to develop and optimize a two-dimensional (2D) LC-QqQ-MS method. Once an effective method of separation using 2D-LC-QqQ-MS was developed and optimized, a standard drug panel was applied to evaluate the efficiency and proposed application to real urine samples. The 2D-LC-QqQ-MS method was successful in separating synthetic cannabinoids, designer cathinones and a standard drug panel from one another.