Rationale: Cannabis is mostly grown under illegal and unregulated circumstances, which seems to favour a product increasingly high in its main cannabinoid ∆-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). ∆-9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is a relatively untested cannabinoid which is said to be a cannabinoid receptor neutral antagonist, and may inhibit the effects of THC.
Objectives: To explore the safety and tolerability of repeated THCV administration and its effects on symptoms normally induced by THC in a sample of healthy volunteers.
Methods: Ten male cannabis users (<25 use occasions) were recruited for this within-subjects, placebo-controlled, double-blind, cross-over pilot study. 10mg oral pure THCV or placebo were administered daily for five days, followed by 1mg intravenous THC on the fifth day.
Results: THCV was well tolerated and subjectively indistinguishable from placebo. THC did not significantly increase psychotic symptoms, paranoia or impair short-term memory, while still producing significant intoxicating effects. Delayed verbal recall was impaired by THC and only occurred under placebo condition (Z=-2.201, p=0.028), suggesting a protective effect of THCV. THCV also inhibited THC-induced increased heart rate (Z=-2.193, p=0.028). Nine out of ten participants reported THC under THCV condition (compared to placebo) to be subjectively weaker or less intense (χ(2)=6.4, p=0.011). THCV in combination with THC significantly increased memory intrusions (Z=-2.155, p=0.031).
Conclusion: In this first study of THC and THCV, THCV inhibited some of the well-known effects of THC, while potentiating others. These findings need to be interpreted with caution due to a small sample size and lack of THC-induced psychotomimetic and memory-impairing effect, probably owing to the choice of dose.
Keywords: THC; THCV; cannabinoid; cannabis; human; memory; psychosis; Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol; Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin.
© The Author(s) 2015.