, Volume 181, Issue 2, pp 237–243 | Cite as

Reinforcing effects of oral Δ9-THC in male marijuana smokers in a laboratory choice procedure

  • Carl L. HartEmail author
  • Margaret Haney
  • Suzanne K. Vosburg
  • Sandra D. Comer
  • Richard W. Foltin
Original Investigation



Oral Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC; Marinol) is medically available for the treatment of nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and for wasting syndromes related to HIV/AIDS. Little is known about its reinforcing effects.


This study was conducted to characterize the reinforcing effects of oral Δ9-THC in experienced marijuana smokers under controlled laboratory conditions.


Ten healthy male marijuana users completed this 17-day residential study. On days 2, 6, 10, and 14, at 0900 h, participants received a “sample” oral dose of Δ9-THC (0, 10, 20 mg) and an alternative reinforcer, a $2 voucher (redeemable for cash at study’s end). Over the next 3 days, they had 11 opportunities to self-administer either the sampled dose of Δ9-THC or to receive a $2 voucher.


Participants chose active Δ9-THC (10 and 20 mg) more often than placebo (<two selections vs ∼four selections, respectively). However, they chose active Δ9-THC on less than 50% of choice opportunities. Both active Δ9-THC doses produced significant increases in “positive” subjective effects, impaired psychomotor performance, and increased heart rate, relative to the placebo conditions.


These data indicate that oral Δ9-THC may have modest abuse liability in experienced marijuana smokers.


Cannabis Marinol Human Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol Self-administration Choice Subjective effects Performance 



The National Institute on Drug Abuse provided financial support for this research (Grant #DA-03746). We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Brooke Roe, Susan Loftus, Diana Paksarian, Jana Colley, and Drs. Erik W. Gunderson, Andrew Bennett, Mikhail Nickita, and Aleksandra Beselman.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carl L. Hart
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Margaret Haney
    • 1
  • Suzanne K. Vosburg
    • 1
  • Sandra D. Comer
    • 1
  • Richard W. Foltin
    • 1
  1. 1.Division on Substance Abuse, New York State Psychiatric Institute and Department of Psychiatry, College of PhysiciansSurgeons of Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.New York State Psychiatric InstituteNew YorkUSA

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