Acute and residual effects of marijuana in humans

Reginald V. Fant, Stephen J. Heishman, Edward B. Bunker, Wallace B. Pickworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Marijuana continues to be the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States. Because many people abuse marijuana during the evening and on weekends and then go to work or school the next day, more research is needed on the residual effects of marijuana. The current study sought to examine both acute and residual subjective, physiologic, and performance effects of smoking a single marijuana cigarette. Ten healthy male volunteers who reported recent use of marijuana resided on a residential research ward. On three separate days, subjects smoked one NIDA marijuana cigarette containing either 0%, 1.8%, or 3.6% Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) according to a paced puffing procedure. Subjective, physiologic, and performance measures were collected prior to smoking, five times following smoking on that day, and three times on the following morning. Subjects reported robust subjective effects following both active doses of marijuana, which returned to baseline levels within 3.5 h. Heart rate increased and the pupillary light reflex decreased following active dose administration with return to baseline on that day. A new finding was that marijuana smoking acutely produced decrements in smooth pursuit eye tracking. Although robust acute effects of marijuana were found on subjective and physiological measures, and on smooth pursuit eye tracking performance, no effects were evident the day following administration, indicating that the residual effects of smoking a single marijuana cigarette are minimal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)777-784
Number of pages8
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiovascular effects
  • Cognitive tasks
  • Human behavioral pharmacology
  • Marijuana
  • Performance effects
  • Psychomotor tasks
  • Pupillary effects
  • Smooth pursuit eye tracking
  • Subjective effects
  • THC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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