A study investigating the acute dose-response effects of 13 mg and 17 mg Delta 9- tetrahydrocannabinol on cognitive-motor skills, subjective and autonomic measures in regular users of marijuana.J Psychopharmacol 2008; 22(4):441-51JP
Heavy use of marijuana is claimed to damage critical skills related to short-term memory, visual scanning and attention. Motor skills and driving safety may be compromised by the acute effects of marijuana. The aim of this study was to investigate the acute effects of 13 mg and 17 mg Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on skills important for coordinated movement and driving and on subjective and autonomic measures in regular users of marijuana. Fourteen regular users of marijuana were enrolled. Each subject was tested on two separate days. On each test day, subjects smoked two low-nicotine cigarettes, one with and the other without THC. Seventeen mg THC was included in the cigarette on one test day and 13 mg on the other day. The sequence of cigarette types was unknown to the subject. During smoking, heart rate and blood pressure were monitored, and the subjects performed a virtual reality maze task requiring attention and motor coordination, followed by 3 other cognitive tasks (Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), a "gambling" task and estimation of time and distance from an approaching car). After smoking a cigarette with 17 mg THC, regular marijuana users hit the walls more often on the virtual maze task than after smoking cigarettes without THC; this effect was not seen in patients after they smoked cigarettes with 13 mg THC. Performance in the WCST was affected with 17 mg THC and to a lesser extent with the use of 13 mg THC. Decision making in the gambling task was affected after smoking cigarettes with 17 mg THC, but not with 13 m THC. Smoking cigarettes with 13 and 17 mg THC increased subjective ratings of pleasure and satisfaction, drug "effect" and drug "high". These findings imply that smoking of 17 mg THC results in impairment of cognitive-motor skills that could be important for coordinated movement and driving, whereas the lower dose of 13 mg THC appears to cause less impairment of such skills in regular users of marijuana.