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Interesting Discovery in N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) Wipe Samples

The determination of a new illicit drug, as a testing capability, has recently been set up by the Liquid Chromatography (LC-MS/MS) section of our Envirolab Services Sydney laboratory. DMT, formally known as N,N-dimethyltryptamine, is quite interesting to test, given it is a drug that occurs naturally in many plants and animals (also human beings) and has historically been prepared by various cultures for ritual purposes.

 

Despite being naturally occurring, the preparation, use, and trafficking of DMT is illegal in most countries. Keeping this in mind, it's not surprising that in Australia, DMT also came to attention some years ago.    

 

Proposed ban on plants containing DMT

In 2011, the Attorney-General's Department released a discussion paper that proposed legislative amends that would increase the list of prohibited plants used for drug purposes. The discussion paper proposed at the time to expand the list of prohibited plants to include any plant containing DMT. Hundreds (possibly thousands) of Australian native plants contain high amounts of this naturally occurring compound, including the ‘Golden Wattle’ (Acacia Pycnantha), the official botanical emblem of Australia and the reason behind our 'green and gold' national colours.

 

Critics argued the widening of the schedule could potentially criminalize hundreds of plant species and therefore, the proposed changes created concerns on a commercial scale for permaculturists, farmers, gardeners, plant nurseries and bush regenerators. Further, if you had a wattle plant in your garden, could you get charged and convicted of a federal violation?

 

Fortunately, and following a review of the submissions from various associations and the public, changes did not go ahead and the Golden Wattle remains our national flower!

 

Image of wattle in flower
Image: Golden Wattle (Acacia Pycnantha) in flower. DMT is a naturally occurring compound found in members of the Acacia species, many of which are native to Australia.

 

 

 

Discovery made from the samples  

The wipe samples returned very positive results. Looks like the clandestine preparation and the use of DMT is more common than initially thought. 

 

The charts above provide examples of a calibration curve and a chromatogram for N,N-DMT (0.2 ug/L). 

 

 

Laboratory testing services at Envirolab Services:

For more information about testing for N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) or other contaminants, contact us today!

 

 

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