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Ann Pharm Fr. 2006 May;64(3):161-72.

[Effects of oral cannabis and dronabinol on driving capacity].

[Article in French]

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Laboratoire de toxicologie et chimie forensiques, institut universitaire de médecine légale (IUML), rue du Bugnon 21, CH 1005 Lausanne, Suisse.


Two retrospective epidemiologic studies have shown that cannabis is the main psychoactive substance detected in the blood of drivers suspected of driving under the influence of psychotropic drugs. An oral administration double-blind crossover study was carried out with eight healthy male subjects, aged 22 to 30 years, all occasional cannabis smokers. Three treatments and one placebo were administered to all participants at a two week interval: 20 mg dronabinol, 16.5 mg D9-tétrahydrocannabinol (THC) and 45.7 mg THC as a cannabis milk decoction. Participants were asked to report the subjective drug effects and their willingness to drive under various circumstances on a visual analog scale. Clinical observations, a psychomotor test and a tracking test on a driving simulator were also carried out. Compared to cannabis smoking, THC, 11-OH-THC and THC-COOH blood concentrations remained low through the whole study (<13.1 ng THC/mL,<24.7 ng 11-OH-THC/mL and<99.9 ng THC-COOH/mL). Two subjects experienced deep anxiety symptoms suggesting that this unwanted side-effect may occur when driving under the influence of cannabis or when driving and smoking a joint. No clear association could be found between these adverse reactions and a susceptibility gene to propensity to anxiety and psychotic symptoms (genetic polymorphism of the catechol-O-methyltransferase). The questionnaires have shown that the willingness to drive was lower when the drivers were assigned an insignificant task and was higher when the mission was of crucial importance. The subjects were aware of the effects of cannabis and their performances on the road sign and tracking test were greatly impaired, especially after ingestion of the strongest dose. The Cannabis Influence Factor (CIF) which relies on the molar ratio of active and inactive cannabinoids in blood provided a good estimate of the fitness to drive.

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