Sex differences in acute cannabis effects revisited: Results from two randomized, controlled trials

T.R. Arkell*, R.C. Kevin, F. Vinckenbosch, N. Lintzeris, E. Theunissen, J.G. Ramaekers, I.S. McGregor

*Corresponding author for this work

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1 Citation (Web of Science)


Some evidence suggests that males and females may differ in their responses to acute cannabis effects, including subjective drug effects and behavioural effects, and cannabinoid pharmacokinetics. This is significant given current changes to cannabis-related policies and, in consequence, increased cannabis accessibility. The present study combines data from two randomized controlled trials to investigate possible differences among males (n = 21) and females (n = 19) in the acute effects of vaporized cannabis containing 13.75 mg Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), with and without cannabidiol (CBD; 13.75 mg). To control for differences in the timing of assessments, peak (or peak change from baseline) scores were calculated for a range of measures including subjective drug effects, cognitive performance, cardiovascular effects, and plasma concentrations of THC, CBD, and their respective primary metabolites. While THC elicited robust and significant changes in all but one outcome measure relative to placebo, relatively few sex differences were observed after controlling for BMI and plasma THC concentrations. Relative to females, males performed better overall on a divided attention task (DAT) and had higher peak plasma concentrations of 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC (11-COOH-THC). Males and females did not differ with respect to plasma concentrations of any other analyte, subjective drug effects, or cardiovascular measures. These data indicate an absence of systematic sex differences in acute cannabis effects given a moderate dose of vaporized cannabis. They do not preclude the possibility that sex differences may emerge with higher THC doses or with other commonly used routes of administration (e.g., orally administered oils or edibles).
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13125
Number of pages10
JournalAddiction Biology
Issue number2
Early online date22 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • cannabis
  • CBD
  • sex differences
  • THC

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