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

Stephen J. Heishman, Maxine L. Stitzer, John E. Yingling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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% Δ9-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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-179
Number of pages7
JournalPharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1989


  • Cognitive tasks
  • Human behavioral pharmacology
  • Marijuana
  • Performance effects
  • Psychomotor tasks
  • Smoking topography
  • Subjective effects
  • THC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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