Cardiovascular effects of prolonged delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol ingestion

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1975 Sep;18(3):287-97. doi: 10.1002/cpt1975183287.


In contrast to the tachycardia and unchanged or increased blood pressure seen after single doses, prolonged delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) ingestion produced significant heart rate slowing and blood pressure lowering in hospitalized volunteers. Impaired circulatory responses to standing, exercise, Valsalva maneuver, and cold pressor testing suggest a state of sympathetic insufficiency. Marked weight gain was observed in all subjects, which has been shown to be related to fluid retention and plasma volume expansion. Tolerance developed to orthostatic hypotension, possibly related to plasma volume expansion, but did not develop to the supine hypotensive effects. Nearly complete tolerance developed to the tachycardia and psychological effects produced by smoked marijuana while ingesting THC. Electrocardiographic changes were minimal despite the large cumulative dose of THC. The hypothesis that THC has a biphasic effect on the sympathetic nervous system in man, producing excitation with single doses and inhibition with prolonged administration, is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Cannabis / pharmacology*
  • Cold Temperature
  • Dronabinol / administration & dosage
  • Dronabinol / pharmacology*
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Exertion
  • Placebos
  • Plasma Volume / drug effects
  • Posture
  • Valsalva Maneuver


  • Placebos
  • Dronabinol