A marijuana-drug interaction primer: Precipitants, pharmacology, and pharmacokinetics

Pharmacol Ther. 2019 Sep:201:25-38. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2019.05.001. Epub 2019 May 7.


In the United States, the evolving landscape of state-legal marijuana use for recreational and/or medical purposes has given rise to flourishing markets for marijuana and derivative products. The popularity of these products highlights the relative absence of safety, pharmacokinetic, and drug interaction data for marijuana and its constituents, most notably the cannabinoids. This review articulates current issues surrounding marijuana terminology, taxonomy, and dosing; summarizes cannabinoid pharmacology and pharmacokinetics; and assesses the drug interaction risks associated with co-consuming marijuana with conventional medications. Existing pharmacokinetic data are currently insufficient to fully characterize potential drug interactions precipitated by marijuana constituents. As such, increasing awareness among researchers, clinicians, and federal agencies regarding the need to conduct well-designed in vitro and clinical studies is imperative. Mechanisms that help researchers navigate the legal and regulatory barriers to conducting these studies would promote rigorous evaluation of potential marijuana-drug interactions and inform health care providers and consumers about the possible risks of co-consuming marijuana products with conventional medications.

Keywords: Cannabinoid; Drug interaction; Marijuana; Natural product; Pharmacokinetics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cannabinoids / administration & dosage*
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacokinetics
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology
  • Drug Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Marijuana Use / adverse effects*


  • Cannabinoids