Danielle McCartney, Thomas R. Arkell, Christopher Irwine, Richard C.Kevin, Iain S.McGregor

Published in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews

November 2021



Blood and oral fluid Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentrations are often used to identify cannabis-impaired drivers. We used meta-analytic techniques to characterise the relationships between biomarkers of cannabis use, subjective intoxication, and impairment of driving and driving-related cognitive skills. Twenty-eight publications and 822 driving-related outcomes were reviewed. Each outcome was measured in concert with one or more biomarkers of cannabis/THC use and/or subjective intoxication. Higher blood THC and 11−OH-THC concentrations, oral fluid THC concentrations and subjective ratings of intoxication were associated with greater impairment in ‘other’ (mostly occasional) cannabis users (p’s<0.05). Blood 11−COOH-THC concentrations were associated with impairment after inhaling, but not orally ingesting, cannabis/THC. However, these ‘biomarker–performance’ relationships (R) were only very weak (blood THCpost-ingestion: -0.08; blood THCpost-inhalation: -0.10; blood 11−OH-THCpost-ingestion: -0.13), weak (blood 11−OH-THCpost-inhalation: -0.24; oral fluid THCpost-inhalation: -0.36; subjective intoxication: -0.29) or moderate (blood 11−COOH-THCpost-inhalation: -0.43) in strength. No significant biomarker-performance relationships were observed in ‘regular’ (weekly or more often) cannabis users (p’s>0.10), although the analyses were less robust. Blood and oral fluid THC concentrations are relatively poor indicators of cannabis/THC-induced impairment.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2021.11.004



McCartney, D., Arkell, T. R., Irwin, C., Kevin, R. C., & McGregor, I. S. (2021). Are blood and oral fluid Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and metabolite concentrations related to impairment? A meta-regression analysis. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews.