Stable isotope ratios of marijuana. I. Carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes describe growth conditions. Conference Paper uri icon


  • There remains significant uncertainty in illicit marijuana cultivation. We analyzed the delta(13)C and delta(15)N of 508 domestic samples from known U.S.A. counties, 31 seized from a single location, 5 samples grown in Mexico and Colombia, and 10 northwest border seizures. For a subset, inflorescences and leaves were analyzed separately. These data revealed a strong correspondence, with inflorescences having slightly higher delta(13)C and delta(15)N values than leaves. A framework for interpreting these results is introduced and evaluated. Samples identified as outdoor-grown by delta(13)C were generally recorded as such by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). DEA-classified indoor-grown samples had the most negative delta(13)C values, consistent with indoor cultivation, although many were also in the outdoor-grown domain. Delta(15)N indicated a wide range of fertilizers across the dataset. Samples seized at the single location suggested multiple sources. Northwest border delta(13)C values suggested indoor growth, whereas for the Mexican and Colombian samples they indicated outdoor growth.

published proceedings

  • J Forensic Sci

altmetric score

  • 7.1

author list (cited authors)

  • West, J. B., Hurley, J. M., & Ehleringer, J. R.

citation count

  • 35

complete list of authors

  • West, Jason B||Hurley, Janet M||Ehleringer, James R

publication date

  • January 2009