Interaction between marihuana and ethanol: effects on psychomotor performance

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1988 Apr;12(2):268-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.1988.tb00193.x.


This is a report of the results of a placebo-controlled study in which the effects of the interaction between ethanol and marihuana on drug plasma concentrations, subjective ratings of intoxication, heart rate acceleration, and psychomotor performance were investigated. Six healthy, male, paid volunteers, moderate users of ethanol and marihuana, participated in the study. Ethanol (0.42 g/kg, 0.85 g/kg, or placebo) was administered over a 30-min interval. Fifteen minutes later the subjects smoked, in their customary manner, NIDA cigarettes containing 2.4% or 0.0004% (placebo) delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Each subject was tested in a single-blind, latin-square crossover design with the following six conditions: placebo ethanol/placebo marihuana; low dose ethanol/placebo marihuana; high dose ethanol/placebo marihuana; placebo ethanol/marihuana; low dose ethanol/marihuana; and high dose ethanol/marihuana. The variables measured in the study were: (a) subjective rating of ethanol and/or marihuana intoxication; (b) heart rate; (c) accuracy and latency of response in the Simulator Evaluation of Drug Impairment (SEDI) task; (d) blood ethanol concentration by gas chromatography; and (e) plasma concentration of THC by radioimmunoassay. The results indicate that the decrements due to ethanol in performance of skills necessary to drive an automobile were significantly enhanced by marihuana in an additive and perhaps synergistic manner. The administration of ethanol prior to marihuana smoking did not produce significant effects on the subjective rating of "high," heart rate acceleration, or THC plasma concentration.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dronabinol / blood
  • Drug Interactions
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking*
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects*
  • Random Allocation
  • Reaction Time


  • Ethanol
  • Dronabinol