Individual and combined effects of cannabis and tobacco on drug reward processing in non-dependent users

Chandni Hindocha, Will Lawn, Tom P Freeman, H Valerie Curran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (SciVal)


RATIONALE: Cannabis and tobacco are often smoked simultaneously in joints, and this practice may increase the risks of developing tobacco and/or cannabis use disorders. Currently, there is no human experimental research on how these drugs interact on addiction-related measures.

OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to investigate how cannabis and tobacco, each alone and combined together in joints, affected individuals' demand for cannabis puffs and cigarettes, explicit liking of drug and non-drug-related stimuli and craving.

METHOD: A double-blind, 2 (active cannabis, placebo cannabis) × 2 (active tobacco, placebo tobacco) crossover design was used with 24 non-dependent cannabis and tobacco smokers. They completed a pleasantness rating task (PRT), a marijuana purchase task (MPT) and a cigarette purchase task (CPT) alongside measures of craving pre- and post-drug administration.

RESULTS: Relative to placebo cannabis, active cannabis reduced liking of cannabis-associated stimuli and increased response time to all stimuli except cigarette-related stimuli. Relative to placebo cannabis, active cannabis decreased demand for cannabis puffs (trends for breakpoint and elasticity) and cigarettes (breakpoint, P max, O max) on several characteristics of the purchase tasks. We found no evidence that active tobacco, both alone or combined with cannabis, had an effect on liking, demand or craving.

CONCLUSIONS: Acutely, cannabis reduced liking of cannabis-related stimuli and demand for cannabis itself. Acute cannabis also reduced demand for cigarettes on the CPT. Acute tobacco administration did not affect demand or pleasantness ratings for cigarettes themselves or cannabis. In non-dependent cannabis and tobacco co-users, tobacco did not influence the rewarding effects of cannabis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3153-3163
Number of pages11
Issue number21
Early online date22 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • Adult
  • Behavior, Addictive/psychology
  • Craving/drug effects
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Dronabinol/pharmacology
  • Drug Synergism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse/psychology
  • Marijuana Smoking/psychology
  • Motivation/drug effects
  • Nicotine/pharmacology
  • Reaction Time/drug effects
  • Reward
  • Smoking/psychology
  • Tobacco Use Disorder/psychology
  • Young Adult


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