Marijuana smoking: Effects of varying puff volume and breathhold duration

J. L. Azorlosa, M. K. Greenwald, M. L. Stitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Two studies were conducted to quantify biological and behavioral effects resulting from exposure to controlled doses of marijuana smoke. In one study, puff volume (30, 60 and 90 ml) and in a second study, breathhold duration (0, 10 and 20 sec) were systematically varied while holding constant other smoking topography parameters (number of puffs = 10, interpuff interval = 60 sec and inhalation volume = 25% of vital capacity). Each study also varied levels of Δ9-tetrahydro-cannabinol marijuana cigarette content (1.75% and 3.55%). Regular marijuana users served as subjects (n = 7 in each experiment). Subjects smoked 10 puffs in each of six sessions; a seventh, nonsmoking session (all measures recorded at the same times as in active smoking sessions) served as a control. Variations in puff volume produced significant dose-related changes in postsmoking plasma Δ9-tetrahydro- cannabinol levels, carbon monoxide boost and subjective effects (e.g., 'high'). In contrast, breathholding for 10 or 20 sec versus 0 sec increased plasma Δ9-tetrahydro-cannabinol levels but not CO boost or subjective effects. Task performance measures were not reliably influenced by marijuana smoke exposure within the dosing ranges examined. These findings confirm the utility of the controlled smoking technology, support the notion that cumulative puff volume systematically influences biological exposure and subjective effects, but cast doubt on the common belief that prolonged breathholding of marijuana smoke enhances classical subjective effects associated with its reinforcing value in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)560-569
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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