Ethanol increases plasma Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels and subjective effects after marihuana smoking in human volunteers

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2001 Oct 1;64(2):143-9. doi: 10.1016/s0376-8716(01)00118-1.


Marihuana and alcohol are often used together, yet little is known about why they are combined. Male volunteers were assigned to one marihuana treatment group (placebo, low or moderate dose Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)) and, on three separate study days, they also drank a different dose of ethanol (placebo, 0.35 or 0.7 g/kg). Plasma THC levels and changes in subjective mood states were recorded for 90 min after smoking. For many of the drug combinations, when subjects consumed ethanol they detected marihuana effects more quickly, reported more episodes of euphoria and had higher plasma THC levels than when they consumed placebo ethanol. These data suggest that ethanol may increase the absorption of THC resulting in an increase in the positive subjective mood effects of smoked marihuana and contributing to the popularity of this drug combination.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / blood*
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / psychology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Dronabinol / blood*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Ethanol / adverse effects*
  • Euphoria / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / blood*
  • Marijuana Smoking / psychology


  • Ethanol
  • Dronabinol