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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2019 May 10;181:86-92. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2019.05.004. [Epub ahead of print]

Feasibility and effects of galantamine on cognition in humans with cannabis use disorder.

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Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, 115 Mill Street, McLean Hospital, Belmont 02478, MA, United States; Harvard Medical School, 25 Shattuck Street, Boston 02115, MA, United States. Electronic address:
VA Connecticut Healthcare System, 950 Campbell Ave., Bldg. 36/116A4, West Haven, CT 06516, USA; Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, 300 George St., New Haven, CT 06511, USA.
Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, 300 George St., New Haven, CT 06511, USA.



As long-term use of medicinal and recreational cannabis becomes more common and concentrations of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis increase, it is timely to identify strategies to counteract the cognitive effects of cannabinoids.


Galantamine is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor approved for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. This study aimed to investigate the feasibility of galantamine administration to individuals with cannabis use disorder (CUD), and the effects of galantamine on cognition. We hypothesized galantamine would be well tolerated and would not have procognitive effects in the absence of acute cannabis intoxication.


Thirty individuals with CUD (73.5% male, 26.5% female) participated in a randomized, double-blind, parallel-group trial. Participants completed a baseline session followed by a 10-day outpatient treatment period, during which they received either 8 mg/day of galantamine orally or placebo. Cognitive assessments were conducted at three time points and self-reported measures that may impact cognitive performance (cannabis withdrawal, craving, and mood) were completed at six time points.


There were no significant differences in demographic and baseline variables between groups (galantamine vs. placebo). There were no significant adverse effects from galantamine. Cannabis withdrawal and craving continuously decreased over the study. We saw evidence of a modest improvement in cognitive outcomes during the 10-day period, exemplified by a statistically significant increase in measures of response inhibition (increased median reaction time on the Stop Signal Task), and a trend for improvement in measures of attention (increased RVP A'), for both groups. Analyses did not show, however, a significant main effect for treatment or treatment-by-time interactions.


The findings of this pilot study support the feasibility of the administration of galantamine for individuals with CUD. Adequately powered, randomized, placebo-controlled trials are required to investigate the potential of galantamine to improve cognitive deficits associated with CUD.


Addiction; Cannabis; Cognition; Galantamine; Marijuana; THC


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