Hashish seizures in Algeria over the 2019–2020 period: The rise of potent hashish hybrids

Yacine Boumrah, Wissam Kermouche, Bouzid Zarita, El Djemai Drardja, Sabrina Bouanani

Abstract

In Algeria, hashish is by far the most common illicit drug. This study explores Algerian hashish over a two‐year period (2019–2020). A total of 2583 hashish samples from 1707 seizures for a total quantity of 108 tons were analyzed using a validated high‐performance liquid chromatography–diode array detection method (HPLC–DAD). The yearly arithmetic mean tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration shows relative stability — 18.67% in 2019 and 19.03% in 2020 with an overall mean THC content of 18.87% and standard deviation of 10.99%. High‐potency hashish (THC content > 20%) is by far the most predominant type, representing almost 50% of the total Algerian hashish seizures (mean and median around 29%). The overall mean of cannabidiol (CBD) was 2.45%, and 12% of the total studied seizures were of very low CBD concentration (CBD content<1%). Three distinct hashish chemotypes were identified: Chemotype I described the traditional Moroccan hashish with THC content ranging from 0% to 16%, Chemotype II hashish included most of the seizures and characterized by THC content ranging from 16% to 30%, and Chemotype III was characterized by hashish potency higher than 30% and very low CBD content. The identified chemotypes I, II, and III were characterized in a ternary plot, and the relative contents (THC:CBD:CBN) were about 67%:29%:4%, 88%:9%:3%, and 96%:2%:2%, respectively.