Justin Matheson, Robert E. Mann, Beth Sproule, Marilyn A. Huestis, Christine M. Wickens, Gina Stoduto, Tony P. George, Jürgen Rehm, Bernard Le Foll, Bruna Brands

Published in Science Direct

 July 2020



To examine acute and residual mood and cognitive performance in young adult regular cannabis users following smoked cannabis.


Ninety-one healthy young adults completed this double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-groups study. Participants were randomized to receive active (12.5% THC) or placebo cannabis with a 2:1 allocation ratio, and mood [Profile of Mood States (POMS)] and cognitive performance [Hopkins Verbal Learning Test – Revised (HVLT-R), Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST), Continuous Performance Test (CPT), grooved pegboard (GPB)] were assessed before and 1, 24, and 48 (h) after smoking cannabis ad libitum. High and Low THC groups were based on blood THC concentrations.


One hour after smoking cannabis, compared to Placebo, in both the High and Low THC groups, there were increases in POMS Arousal and Positive Mood, and in the High THC group only, increases in Confusion, Friendliness, and Elation, and a decrease in Fatigue. Increases in Friendliness and Elation in the High THC group remained significant for 24 h. The only significant acute effect of cannabis on cognition was a decrease in the percent of words retained in the HVLT-R in the High THC group compared to Placebo (mean difference = 15.8%, 95% CI = 3.6–28.0%, p = 0.006). Unexpectedly, compared to Placebo, both the High and Low THC groups improved in DSST performance at 48 h (p ≤ 0.016).


Under the present experimental conditions, in young regular cannabis users, smoking cannabis ad libitum had significant effects on mood, some of which persisted 24 h later, yet minimal effects on cognition, and no evidence of residual cognitive impairment.


Open Access




Matheson, J., Mann, R. E., Sproule, B., Huestis, M. A., Wickens, C. M., Stoduto, G., … & Brands, B. (2020). Acute and residual mood and cognitive performance of young adults following smoked cannabis. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 172937.