In recent years, many countries have passed legislation regulating the use of cannabis for medical purposes. This has granted patients and clinicians access to both herbal material and cannabis-based products, generally bypassing the strict regulatory procedures that normally apply to pharmaceutical development. Further, legalization of cannabis for recreational purposes in several states of the US, as well as in other American countries, such as Uruguay and Canada, confers cannabis an intriguing dual status, pharmaceutical substance and mere commodity, which creates a complex regulatory scenario. Irrespective of their purpose, cannabis products are limited by the lipophilic nature of cannabinoids, the main active substances in Cannabis sativa L., which difficults their formulation and makes their oral absorption erratic. Also, the psychoactive effects induced by Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main cannabinoid, limit the therapeutic index of cannabis medications. Current efforts to achieve efficient, reliable dosing of cannabinoids aim at exploring different routes of administration (e.g., pulmonary, oral, mucosal, transdermal) and delivery vectors (e.g., inhaling powders, nanovehicles) to optimize their pharmacokinetic profile. This presentation will take a glance at the status of cannabis therapeutics, summarizing the ongoing efforts and strategies to develop new cannabis-based medical products. We will focus on indications for which cannabis and cannabinoids’ efficacy is either under clinical evaluation or has already been stablished. Also, we will explore differences in pharmacokinetic profiles among various routes of administration and novel pharmaceutical strategies to optimize both ADME properties (administration, distribution, metabolism and excretion) and therapeutic index of cannabis and cannabinoids.
1. Understand the state of the art of cannabis therapeutics, reviewing approved medications that target the endocannabinoid system and summarizing ongoing efforts and strategies to develop new cannabis-based medical products.
2. Learn about the differences in pharmacokinetic profiles of cannabinoids among various routes of administration and explore novel pharmaceutical strategies to exploit them.