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Self-administration behavior is maintained by the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana in squirrel monkeys


Many attempts to obtain reliable self-administration behavior by laboratory animals with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, have been unsuccessful1,2,3,4,5. Because self-administration behavior has been demonstrated in laboratory animals for almost all other psychoactive drugs abused by humans6, as well as for nicotine, the psychoactive ingredient in tobacco7, these studies would seem to indicate that marijuana has less potential for abuse. Here we show persistent intravenous self-administration behavior by monkeys for doses of THC lower than doses used in previous studies, but comparable to doses in marijuana smoke inhaled by humans.

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Figure 1: Initial acquisition of THC self-administration behavior, and effects of varying injection dose of THC in squirrel monkeys.
Figure 2: Effects of SR141716A pretreatment on THC and cocaine self-administration behavior.


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Cocaine HCl, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and SR141716A were obtained from NIDA, NIH. We thank Godfrey Redhi for technical assistance.

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Correspondence to Steven R. Goldberg.

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Tanda, G., Munzar, P. & Goldberg, S. Self-administration behavior is maintained by the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana in squirrel monkeys. Nat Neurosci 3, 1073–1074 (2000).

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