December 1975

Marijuana Consumption and Tolerance to Physiological and Subjective Effects

Author Affiliations

From the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Center, Harvard Medical School, McLean Hospital, Belmont, Mass.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1975;32(12):1548-1552. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1975.01760300086007

• The relation between marijuana consumption and the development of tolerance was investigated during a 31-day study. Volunteers with a history of moderate or heavy marijuana use were given access to one-gram (2.1% δ9 tetrahydrocannabinol [THC]) marijuana cigarettes during a 21-day smoking period.

Both groups tended to increase consumption during this time. Heavy users averaged 5.7 cigarettes per day and indicated a progressive decline in ratings of intoxication and duration of pulse rate effect. Moderate users averaged 3.2 cigarettes per day but showed no changes in either of these reactions during this time.

Results suggested that tolerance does not develop to the two most reliable indexes of marijuana intoxication unless heavy doses of δ9 THC are self-administered repeatedly. Also, the tendency to increase consumption during this time is not necessarily associated with the development of tolerance.