Abstract

A pilot study was conducted to ascertain the range of induced hemolyzed blood/serum Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) concentrations in 58 human subjects. Subjects were tested within 5 min of smoking a Δ9-THC cigarette and then at half-hour intervals to 150 min. The subjects initially demonstrated a broad range of Δ9-THC hemolyzed blood levels, which settled within an hour to levels comparable to those measured in California drivers who had been stopped for impaired driving, arrested, and tested for Δ9-THC. Serum levels, when correlated with performance or roadside sobriety tests, demonstrated a broad range (5 to 183 ng/mL) of Δ9-THC levels and an “adaptation” effect in the subjects' perception of their own impairment.

Although this preliminary study was not a double-blind placebo experiment, the overall performance of human subjects demonstrated the “adaptation“ effect, which may be a significant factor in making judgments while performing such complex tasks as driving. Also, the effects of the drug extended beyond the period of elevated Δ9 blood levels, perhaps because of THC metabolites that may contribute to impairment or the persistence of THC in the central nervous system. This pilot study will lay the groundwork for a program designed to determine the epidemiology and behavior correlates of marijuana use in motorists.

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