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Addict Behav. 2005 May;30(4):815-28.

Performance of heavy marijuana-smoking adolescents on a laboratory measure of motivation.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston, 1300 Moursund St., Houston, TX 77030, United States.


Marijuana smoking produces effects that may persist for hours or days beyond the period of acute intoxication. Despite evidence that adolescence represents a period of heightened exposure to marijuana, little research exists regarding possible impairment in adolescents who smoke marijuana regularly, and none exists regarding basic behavioral processes. In the present study, adolescents who smoked marijuana on a regular basis (near daily) were compared to a control group of adolescents on a two-option experimental task designed to measure motivation. The contingencies were arranged such that one option (work), which required systematically increasing response output, initially produced greater rates of monetary reinforcement than an alternative option (non-work) that required no response output to earn money. Switching to the non-work option was interpreted as a measure of reduced motivation. Significant differences were found between the groups: the marijuana-smoking participants switched earlier to the non-work option, and derived a greater percentage of their earnings from the non-work option. These differences existed when controlling for differences in cognitive aptitude, gender, and the presence of conduct disorder. A significant correlation between cannabinoid levels and percent of earnings derived from the non-work option suggests that these effects could be associated with the presence of cannabinoids in the marijuana-smoking group.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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