Effects of tetrahydrocannabinol content on marijuana smoking behavior, subjective reports, and performance

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1989 Sep;34(1):173-9. doi: 10.1016/0091-3057(89)90369-9.


This study investigated the smoking topography of marijuana and its effect on heart rate, subjective reports, and cognitive/psychomotor task performance. Male subjects (N = 12) with histories of moderate marijuana use smoked ad lib one cigarette containing 0, 1.3, or 2.7% delta 9-THC on separate days. Smoking topography measures revealed smaller puff and inhalation volumes and shorter puff duration for the high marijuana dose compared to the low dose. No other smoking behavior differed between the active doses. Heart rate was increased dose dependently over placebo levels. Active marijuana also increased subjective reports of drug effect over placebo, but not dose dependently. Significant memory impairment was observed on a forward and reverse digit span task, and performance was impaired on the digit symbol substitution task by the high, but not low, dose of marijuana. Performance on a divided attention task was not affected by marijuana. Thus, although subjects adjusted their smoking of cigarettes varying in THC content, dose-related effects of marijuana were obtained on several measures. The observed differences and individual variation in smoking topography measures suggest that precise control of smoking behavior would improve the accuracy of marijuana dose delivery.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Dronabinol / administration & dosage*
  • Dronabinol / pharmacology
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / physiopathology
  • Marijuana Smoking / psychology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects*
  • Time Factors


  • Dronabinol