Comparative effects of alcohol and marijuana on mood, memory, and performance

Stephen J. Heishman, Kamyar Arasteh, Maxine L. Stitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study compared subjective and behavioral effect profiles of alcohol and smoked marijuana using technology that controlled puffing and inhalation parameters. Male volunteers (n = 5) with histories of moderate alcohol and marijuana use were administered three doses of alcohol (0.25, 0.5, or 1.0 g/kg), three doses of marijuana [4, 8, or 16 puffs of 3.55% Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)], and placebo in random order under double blind conditions in seven separate sessions. Blood alcohol concentration (10-90 mg/dl) and THC levels (63-188 ng/ml) indicated that active drug was delivered to subjects dose dependently. Alcohol and marijuana produced dose-related changes in subjective measures of drug effect. Ratings of perceived impairment were identical for the high doses of alcohol and marijuana. Both drugs produced comparable impairment in digit-symbol substitution and word recall tests, but had no effect in time perception and reaction time tests. Alcohol, but not marijuana, slightly impaired performance in a number recognition test. These data are useful for understanding the relative performance impairment produced bp alcohol and marijuana at the delivered doses and the relationship between their subjective and behavioral effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-101
Number of pages9
JournalPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1997


  • Alcohol
  • Behavioral pharmacology
  • Drug abuse
  • Humans
  • Marijuana
  • Memory
  • Performance
  • Psychomotor
  • Subjective effects
  • THC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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