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Afghan Hashish Thin Layer Chromatography | by Jack Spades
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Afghan Hashish Thin Layer Chromatography

The above photo series shows the results of a thin layer chromatography test completed on a sample of Afghan hashish.


Unlike the presumptive Duquenois test, this thin layer chromatography test is specific to hashish/marijuana and definitive proof that the sample tested is one of these illicit substances.


1. A small sample about the size of the tip of a knife is removed so it can be subjected to the chromatography test. Since this is a non-destructive process, this sample can be recovered at the end of the testing.


2. An extract reagent is added to the suspected hashish in a quantity just enough to cover it in liquid. This will leach off a liquid sample that can then be applied to the thin layer chromatography (TLC) sheet.


3. The TLC sheet is blotted with the extracted sample ensuring that only liquid is deposited onto the sheet. It is then placed into a developing jar with mobile reagent to a level just above the dot. Over the course of approximately five minutes, the mobile reagent will carry the suspected hashish sample along the TLC sheet if it is chemically Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).


4. After the mobile reagent has reached the top of the TLC sheet, it is removed from the developing jar and quickly exposed to the color developing jar. This process is a simple in and out and will create a visible coloring of any reaction present on the chromatography sheet.


The main photo shows the results of this test on a sample of strong hashish. This is indicated by the relatively large spot and intense coloring.


Other samples of hashish and marijuana will produce the following effects:


Strong reactions - Big spots and intense colors

Moderate reactions - Moderately sized spots and distinctive colors

Weak reactions - Faint spots and faint colors

No reaction - No discernible colors from red to blue are present on the TLC sheet and the sample that was tested is not hashish or marijuana.


This photo was created as a tool to train the Afghan National Army in the identification and testing of illicit drugs.

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Taken on April 22, 2010