Enhancing Efficacy, Performance, and Reliability of Cannabis Edibles: Insights from Lipid Bioavailability Studies

Annu Rev Food Sci Technol. 2020 Mar 25;11:45-70. doi: 10.1146/annurev-food-032519-051834. Epub 2019 Dec 24.


The legal sale of cannabis-enriched foods and beverages for medical or recreational purposes is increasing in many states and countries, especially in North America and Europe. These food-based cannabis delivery systems vary considerably in their compositions and structures, ranging from low-viscosity watery beverages to solid fatty chocolates. The rate and extent of release of the bioactive components in cannabis within the human gastrointestinal tract (GIT) affect their health and psychoactive effects. Studies with other types of hydrophobic bioactives, such as nutraceuticals and vitamins, have shown that food composition and structure have a major impact on their bioaccessibility, transformation, and absorption within the GIT, thereby influencing their bioavailability and bioactivity. This review outlines how insights on the bioavailability of other lipophilic bioactives can be used to facilitate the design of more efficacious and consistent cannabis-enriched products intended for oral consumption. In particular, the importance of food-matrix composition (such as fat type and level) and structural organization (such as fat domain dimensions) are discussed.

Keywords: absorption; bioaccessibility; bioavailability; cannabinoids; cannabis; delivery systems.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Beverages*
  • Biological Availability
  • Cannabinoids / administration & dosage
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacokinetics
  • Cannabis*
  • Food*
  • Humans
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Cannabinoids