Alcohol and marijuana: Comparative dose effect profiles in humans

Stephen J. Heishman, Maxine L. Stitzer, George E. Bigelow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study compared subjective and performance dose effect profiles of oral alcohol and smoked marijuana. Male subjects (N=6) with histories of moderate alcohol and marijuana use received three doses of alcohol (0, 0.6, 1.2 g/kg) and three doses of marijuana (0, 1.3, 2.7% Δ9-THC) in a double-blind, randomized crossover design. Physiological indices indicated that active drug was delivered to subjects dose dependently. Alcohol produced dose-related elevations on several subjective measures of drug effect. The high dose of alcohol impaired performance on circular lights, tracking and digit-symbol substitution (DSST) tasks, whereas the low alcohol dose impaired only circular lights performance. Marijuana produced elevations on subjective report measures, but effects were similar for the two active doses. Minimal performance impairment was seen with marijuana on only one measure (DSST speed). The subjective and performance effect profiles produced by smoked marijuana were similar to that of the low (0.6 g/kg) dose of alcohol. These data are useful for understanding the relative performance impairment produced by alcohol and marijuana and the relationship between their subjective and behavioral effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)649-655
Number of pages7
JournalPharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1988


  • Alcohol
  • Behavioral pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Marijuana
  • Performance effects
  • Psychomotor tasks
  • Subjective effects
  • THC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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