Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship alumna Amanda Moses Ferreira (2021-2022) from Trinidad and Tobago started a professional affiliation in October 2021 with Dr. Michelle Peace in the Department of Forensic Science at Virginia Commonwealth University as part of her fellowship year. Ms. Ferreira is a forensic chemist working at the Trinidad and Tobago Forensic Science Center. Her professional affiliation with Dr. Peace provided her with a unique opportunity to learn about technical methods to identify emerging psychoactive substances, which also pose a public health threat in her home country.
Together with Dr. Peace and her coworkers, Ms. Ferreira had been researching ways for drug testing labs to better identify the psychoactive components of marijuana—delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the less common delta-8 THC—and other cannabis components in novel cannabinoid products. They were able to identify synthetic delta-8 THC and other synthetic cannabinoids not found in cannabis plants that are present in cannabinoid products and may cause harmful effects in individuals using these products. The results of this research project were published in an article entitled “Cannabinoid-based vaping products and supplement formulations reported by consumers to precipitate adverse effects” in the peer-reviewed journal Drug Testing and Analysis. Ms. Ferreira hopes that she will be able to use the new technical skills she has learned during this unique professional affiliation program back home. The experience will also help her work with local and international stakeholders to identify new substances in Trinidad and the Caribbean.