Send to

Choose Destination
Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2015 Jul;232(14):2587-95. doi: 10.1007/s00213-015-3889-y. Epub 2015 Mar 11.

Safety, pharmacodynamics, and pharmacokinetics of multiple oral doses of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in older persons with dementia.

Author information

Department of Psychogeriatric Medicine, Vincent van Gogh Institute, Overloonseweg 4, 5804 AV, Venray, The Netherlands,



Data on safety, pharmacodynamics, and pharmacokinetics of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are lacking in dementia patients.


In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial, we evaluated the safety, pharmacodynamics, and pharmacokinetics of THC in ten patients with dementia (mean age 77.3 ± 5.6). For 12 weeks, participants randomly received oral THC (weeks 1-6, 0.75 mg; weeks 7-12, 1.5 mg) or placebo twice daily for 3 days, separated by a 4-day washout period.


Only 6 of the 98 reported adverse events were related to THC. Visual analog scale (VAS) feeling high, VAS external perception, body sway-eyes-open, and diastolic blood pressure were not significantly different with THC. After the 0.75-mg dose, VAS internal perception (0.025 units; 95% CI 0.010-0.040) and heart rate (2 beats/min; 95% CI 0.4-3.8) increased significantly. Body sway-eyes-closed increased only after 1.5 mg (0.59°/s; 95% CI 0.13-1.06). Systolic blood pressure changed significantly after both doses of THC (0.75 mg, -7 mmHg, 95% CI -11.4, -3.0; 1.5 mg, 5 mmHg, 95% CI 1.0-9.2). The median T max was 1-2 h, with THC pharmacokinetics increasing linearly with increasing dose, with wide interindividual variability (CV% up to 140%). The mean C max (ng/mL) after the first dose (0-6 h) was 0.41 (0.18-0.90) for the 0.75-mg dose and 1.01 (0.53-1.92) for the 1.5-mg dose. After the second dose (6-24 h), the C max was 0.50 (0.27-0.92) and 0.98 (0.46-2.06), respectively.


THC was rapidly absorbed and had dose-linear pharmacokinetics with considerable interindividual variation. Pharmacodynamic effects, including adverse events, were minor. Further studies are warranted to evaluate the pharmacodynamics and efficacy of higher THC doses in older persons with dementia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center