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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2008 Sep;33(10):2505-16. doi: 10.1038/sj.npp.1301643. Epub 2008 Jan 9.

Blunted psychotomimetic and amnestic effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in frequent users of cannabis.

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Schizophrenia Biological Research Center, VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, CT 06516, USA.


Cannabis is one of the most widely used illicit substances and there is growing interest in the association between cannabis use and psychosis. Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9-THC) the principal active ingredient of cannabis has been shown to induce psychotomimetic and amnestic effects in healthy individuals. Whether people who frequently use cannabis are either protected from or are tolerant to these effects of Delta-9-THC has not been established. In a 3-day, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, the dose-related effects of 0, 2.5, and 5 mg intravenous Delta-9-THC were studied in 30 frequent users of cannabis and compared to 22 healthy controls. Delta-9-THC (1) produced transient psychotomimetic effects and perceptual alterations; (2) impaired memory and attention; (3) increased subjective effects of 'high'; (4) produced tachycardia; and (5) increased serum cortisol in both groups. However, relative to controls, frequent users showed blunted responses to the psychotomimetic, perceptual altering, cognitive impairing, anxiogenic, and cortisol increasing effects of Delta-9-THC but not to its euphoric effects. Frequent users also had lower prolactin levels. These data suggest that frequent users of cannabis are either inherently blunted in their response to, and/or develop tolerance to the psychotomimetic, perceptual altering, amnestic, endocrine, and other effects of cannabinoids.

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