Publication Abstract Display
Type: Poster
Title: Exploration of sex differences in cannabis use patterns, driving performance, and subjective intoxication effects.
Authors: Mastropietro KF, Rogers JM, Paltin D, Umlauf A, Grelotti DJ, Fitzgerald RL, Grant I, Marcotte TD
Date: 02-04-2023
Abstract:Objective: Although some animal research suggests possible sex differences in response to THC exposure (e.g., Cooper & Craft, 2018), there are limited human studies. One study found that among individuals rarely using cannabis, when given similar amounts of oral and vaporized THC females report greater subjective intoxication compared to males (Sholler et al., 2020). However, in a study of daily users, females reported indistinguishable levels of intoxication compared to males after smoking similar amounts (Cooper & Haney, 2014), while males and females using 1-4x/week showed similar levels of intoxication, despite females having lower blood THC and metabolite concentrations (Matheson et al., 2020). It is important to elucidate sex differences in biological indicators of cannabis intoxication given potential driving/workplace implications as states increasingly legalize use. The current study examined if when closely matching males and females on cannabis use variables there are predictable sex differences in residual whole blood THC and metabolite concentrations, and THC/metabolites, subjective appraisals of intoxication, and driving performance following acute cannabis consumption. Participants and Methods: The current study was part of a randomized clinical trial (Marcotte et al., 2022). Participants smoked ad libitum THC cigarettes and then completed driving simulations, blood draws, and subjective measures of intoxication. The main outcomes were the change in Composite Drive Score (CDS; global measure of driving performance) from baseline, whole blood THC, 11-OH-THC, and THC-COOH levels (ng/mL), and subjective ratings of how 'high' participants felt (0 = not at all, 100 = extremely). For this analysis of participants receiving active THC, males were matched to females on 1) estimated THC exposure (g) in the last 6 months (24M, 24F) or 2) whole blood THC concentrations immediately post-smoking (23M, 23F). Results: When matched on THC exposure in the past 6 months (overall mean of 46 grams; p = .99), there were no sex differences in any cannabinoid/metabolite concentrations at baseline (all p > .83) or after cannabis administration (all p > .72). Nor were there differences in the change in CDS from pre-to-post-smoking (p = .26) or subjective 'highness' ratings (p = .53). When matched on whole blood THC concentrations immediately after smoking (mean of 34 ng/mL for both sexes, p = .99), no differences were found in CDS change from pre-to-post smoking (p = .81), THC metabolite concentrations (all p > .25), or subjective 'highness' ratings (p = .56). For both analyses, males and females did not differ in BMI (both p > .7). Conclusions: When male/female cannabis users are well-matched on use history, we find no significant differences in cannabinoid concentrations following a mean of 5 days of abstinence, suggesting that there are no clear biological differences in carryover residual effects. We also find no significant sex differences following ad libitum smoking in driving performance, subjective ratings of 'highness,' nor whole blood THC and metabolite concentrations, indicating that there are no biological differences in acute response to THC. This improves upon previous research by closely matching participants over a wider range of use intensity variables, although the small sample size precludes definitive conclusions.

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