Breathhold duration and response to marijuana smoke

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1989 Jun;33(2):481-4. doi: 10.1016/0091-3057(89)90534-0.


Marijuana smokers are frequently observed to hold the smoke in their lungs for prolonged periods (10-15 sec) apparently in the belief that prolonged breathholding intensifies the effects of the drug. The actual influence of breathhold duration on response to marijuana smoke has not been studied. The present study examined the effects of systematic manipulation of breathhold duration on the physiological, cognitive and subjective response to marijuana smoke in a group of eight regular marijuana smokers. Subjects were exposed to each of three breathhold duration conditions (0, 10 and 20 sec) on three occasions, scheduled according to a randomized block design. A controlled smoking procedure was used in which the number of puffs, puff volume and postpuff inhalation volume were held constant. Expired air carbon monoxide levels were measured before and after smoking to monitor smoke intake. Typical marijuana effects (increased heart rate, increased ratings of "high" and impaired memory performance) were observed under each of the breathhold conditions, but there was little evidence that response to marijuana was a function of breathhold duration.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Carbon Monoxide / analysis
  • Dronabinol / pharmacology
  • Emotions / drug effects
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / physiopathology*
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Respiration*
  • Time Factors


  • Dronabinol
  • Carbon Monoxide