Human Cannabinoid Pharmacokinetics and Interpretation of Cannabinoid Concentrations in Biological Fluids and Tissues

  • Marilyn A. Huestis
  • Michael L. Smith
Part of the Forensic Science And Medicine book series (FSM)


Pharmacokinetics is the study of the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination of a drug in the body and how these processes change with time. Following controlled drug administration, scientists monitor the drug and its metabolites in bodily fluids and tissues to develop a pharmacokinetic profile for the animal or human being studied. After years of research, scientists have learned some important general principles about pharmacokinetic profiles. One is that, in general, pharmacokinetic profiles are similar for most animals and humans, but specific elements of the disposition of a drug in the body can differ greatly between species and between subjects within a species. Another principle is that helpful models can be developed that characterize a drug’s pharmacokinetics and define parameters to describe processes such as time to peak and maximum concentrations, half-lives, volumes of distribution, and so on. Measuring these pharmacokinetic parameters facilitates comparison between and within human subjects who are examined at different times following administration of a drug. As specific examples in this chapter will convey, it is important to conduct carefully controlled studies and astutely note inter- and intrasubject similarities and differences in pharmacokinetic parameters to build databases that can be used to answer real life questions. The third principle that we will consider is that pharmacokinetic profiles change with the route of drug administration.


Oral Fluid Marijuana Smoke Cutoff Concentration Marijuana Cigarette Positive Urine Test 
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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc., Totowa, New Jersey 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marilyn A. Huestis
    • 1
  • Michael L. Smith
    • 2
  1. 1.Chemistry and Drug Metabolism, Intramural Research ProgramNational Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of HealthBaltimore
  2. 2.Division of Forensic ToxicologyOffice of the Armed Forces Medical ExaminerRockville

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