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Chemical profiling of the street cocktail drug ‘nyaope’ in South Africa using GC–MS II: Stability studies of the cannabinoid, opiate and antiretroviral components during sample storage

Mthembi, P.M., Mwenesongole, E.M., Cole, M.D.
Forensic science international 2019 v.300 pp. 187-192
ambient temperature, antiretroviral agents, bottles, bulking agents, butanol, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, glass, heroin, law enforcement, refrigerators, seizures, solar radiation, tetrahydrocannabinol, South Africa
Nyaope is a mixture of low grade heroin, cannabis products, antiretroviral drugs and other materials added as bulking agents. It is a highly physically additive mixture which is smoked by users. As part of the development of a method for the analysis and profiling of nyaope this study evaluates the stability of the cannabinoid, opiate and antiretroviral components of nyaope during storage following seizure. Conditions used were those typically used for storage of drug seizures: in a desiccator in a refrigerator, in a desiccator in the dark at room temperature, in a desiccator in daylight at room temperature and ambient room temperature in the dark in a cabinet used for storage of drug seizures. Street samples of cannabis (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and heroin were mixed with efavirenz and nevirapine tablets to mimic a nyaope sample. The samples were homogenized and transferred into glass bottles and extracted with tertiary butyl alcohol (tBuOH) and analysed by gas chromatography – mass spectrometry (GC–MS) after the powdered drugs had been stored for intervals of 0 and 24 h under each storage condition. The data obtained indicates that the target drug components in nyaope samples decompose and that for comparison purposes the drug extracts should be prepared in tBuOH immediately after seizure because of the decomposition of the drug components during storage prior to extraction and analysis. The implications of this work are that law enforcement agencies dealing with nyaope and wanting to compare drug samples may need to change their practice around how the drug is handled after seizure but prior to analysis.