The Good and the Bad Effects of (-) trans-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta 9-THC) on Humans

Toxicon. 2004 Sep 15;44(4):461-7. doi: 10.1016/j.toxicon.2004.05.009.


This review analyses the therapeutic usefulness of Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol and its potential to induce adverse reactions on humans. During the last 30 years an enormous amount of research was carried out resulting in the disclosure of the cannabinoid system in Central Nervous System, with its CB(1) and CB(2) receptors, and the agonist anandamide. Under the clinical point of view, Delta(9)-THC produces some therapeutic benefits which are beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, the effects on nausea/emesis due to cancer chemotherapy, as appetite promoter, on some painful conditions and on symptoms of multiple sclerosis are clearly demonstrated. Delta(9)-THC is not devoid of ill effects. On the cognitive domain it impairs the human capacity to discriminate time intervals and space distances, vigilance, memory and the performance for mental work. On the psychic area Delta(9)-THC may induce unpleasant reactions such as disconnected thoughts, panic reactions, disturbing changes in perception, delusions and hallucinatory experiences. However, the long term effects on the psyche and cognition are not known as there are no reports of prolonged use of Delta(9)-THC. Actually, it has been proposed by WHO that Delta(9)-THC should be rescheduled to schedule IV of the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Drugs, as it does not constitute a substantial risk to public health and its abuse is rare if at all.

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Central Nervous System / drug effects*
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Dronabinol / adverse effects*
  • Dronabinol / pharmacology*
  • Dronabinol / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects
  • Psychotropic Drugs / adverse effects
  • Psychotropic Drugs / pharmacology
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use


  • Psychotropic Drugs
  • Dronabinol