"Hallucinations" Following Acute Cannabis Dosing: A Case Report and Comparison to Other Hallucinogenic Drugs

Frederick S. Barrett, Nicolas J. Schlienz, Natalie Lembeck, Muhammad Waqas, Ryan Vandrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Cannabis has been historically classified as a hallucinogen. However, subjective cannabis effects do not typically include hallucinogen-like effects. Empirical reports of hallucinogen-like effects produced by cannabis in controlled settings, particularly among healthy research volunteers, are rare and have mostly occurred after administration of purified Δ-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) rather than whole plant cannabis. Methods: The case of a healthy 30-year-old male who experienced auditory and visual hallucinations in a controlled laboratory study after inhaling vaporized cannabis that contained 25 mg THC (case dose) is presented. Ratings on the Hallucinogen Rating Scale (HRS) following the case dose are compared with HRS ratings obtained from the participant after other doses of cannabis and with archival HRS data from laboratory studies involving acute doses of cannabis, psilocybin, dextromethorphan (DXM), and salvinorin A. Results: Scores on the Volition subscale of the HRS were greater for the case dose than for the maximum dose administered in any other comparison study. Scores on the Intensity and Perception subscales were greater for the case dose than for the maximum dose of cannabis, psilocybin, or salvinorin A. Scores on the Somaesthesia subscale were greater for the case dose than for the maximum dose of DXM, salvinorin A, or cannabis. Scores on the Affect and Cognition subscales for the case dose were significantly lower than for the maximum doses of psilocybin and DXM. Conclusion: Acute cannabis exposure in a healthy adult male resulted in self-reported hallucinations that rated high in magnitude on several subscales of the HRS. However, the hallucinatory experience in this case was qualitatively different than that typically experienced by participants receiving classic and atypical hallucinogens, suggesting that the hallucinatory effects of cannabis may have a unique pharmacological mechanism of action. This type of adverse event needs to be considered in the clinical use of cannabis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-93
Number of pages9
JournalCannabis and Cannabinoid Research
Volume3
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2018

Keywords

  • adverse event
  • cannabis
  • comparative pharmacology
  • hallucination
  • vaporization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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