Carbonyl Compounds in Mainstream Smoke of Hemp Cigarettes

Alexandra M. Ward, Jon O. Ebbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: CBD is a major phytocannabinoid in hemp (Cannabis sativa containing less than 0.3% THC). Hemp cigarettes are a combustible form of hemp consisting of dried and smokable flowers, which represent 2% of the overall CBD market, and the market is expected to grow. Combustion and pyrolysis of organic material are associated with the production of carbonyl compounds, which are known toxicants and are associated with adverse health outcomes. Concentrations of carbonyl compounds in mainstream hemp cigarette smoke are unknown. Materials and Methods: We analyzed and compared carbonyl concentrations in the mainstream smoke produced by a hemp cigarette (Brand B), a premium hemp cigarette (Brand A), Marlboro Red tobacco cigarette, and a research reference tobacco cigarette using high-performance liquid chromatography. We measured carbonyl concentrations in μg per puff and mg per cigarette. Carbonyls investigated were formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acetone, acrolein, propionaldehyde, crotonaldehyde, 2-butanone, and butyraldehyde. Significance was determined using Tukey's test. Results: We observed that Brand B had significantly higher butyraldehyde than any cigarette. No significant differences were observed in crotonaldehyde concentration in the cigarettes. For the remaining carbonyls, Brand A had consistently lower concentrations in mainstream smoke than tobacco cigarettes. Hemp cigarettes emit carbonyls in a lower concentration in μg/puff than tobacco cigarettes, but the magnitude of significance generally decreases when normalized to mg/cigarette. Conclusions: Smoke from hemp cigarettes contains carbonyls at biologically significant concentrations. Opportunities may exist to reduce carbonyl production in these products, and identified potential risks must be considered when balancing the harms and benefits of hemp cigarettes when used for therapeutic purposes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-357
Number of pages9
JournalCannabis and Cannabinoid Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • carbonyls
  • hemp
  • hemp cigarettes
  • smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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