Pharmacokinetics of Oral Minor Cannabinoids in Blood and Brain

Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2023 Sep;8(S1):S51-S61. doi: 10.1089/can.2023.0066.


Introduction: Minor cannabinoids are increasingly being consumed in oral formulations (i.e., edibles, tinctures) for medical and nonmedical purposes. This study examined the pharmacokinetics (PKs) of cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabinol (CBN), and delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (D8-THC) after the first and last oral dose during a 14-day administration period. Materials and Methods: Sprague-Dawley rats (N=6 animals/dose, 50% female) were given an assigned dose of one of four cannabinoids (THCV=3.2-100 mg/kg, CBC=3.2-100 mg/kg, CBN=1-100 mg/kg, or D8-THC=0.32-10 mg/kg) or vehicle (medium-chain triglyceride oil) through oral gavage once daily for 14 days. Blood was collected 45 min and 1.5, 3, and 24 h following the first dose (day 1) and the last dose (day 14) of repeated oral cannabinoid treatment for PK analysis. Outcomes of interest included time to maximum concentration (Tmax), maximum concentration (Cmax), and area under the concentration versus time curve (AUClast). Dose-normalized (DN) Cmax and DN AUClast were also calculated. Brain tissue was collected 24 h post-administration of the first (day 1) and the last (day 14) dose of each cannabinoid to determine concentrations in brain. Results: All cannabinoids tested were detectable in plasma after single and 14-day repeated dosing. DN Cmax and DN AUClast were highest for D8-THC, followed by CBC, CBN, and THCV. There was no sex difference observed in cannabinoid kinetics. Accumulation of D8-THC in plasma was observed after 14 days of administration. THCV levels in plasma were lower on day 14 compared to day 1, indicating potential adaptation of metabolic pathways and increased drug elimination. Cannabinoids were detected in brain tissue 24 h post-administration of the first and the last dose of 17-100 mg/kg THCV, 3.2-100 mg/kg CBC, 10-100 mg/kg CBN, and 10 mg/kg D8-THC. Conclusions: THCV, CBC, CBN, and D8-THC produced detectable levels in plasma and translocated to brain tissue after the first dose (day 1) and the last dose (day 14) of repeated oral dosing. Examination of PKs of these minor cannabinoids in blood and brain provides a critical step for informing target dose ranges and dosing schedules in future studies that evaluate the potential effects of these compounds.

Keywords: cannabichromene; cannabinoids; cannabinol; delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol; pharmacokinetics; tetrahydrocannabivarin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain*
  • Cannabinol
  • Female
  • Male
  • Plasma*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • cannabichromene
  • Cannabinol