Monday, January 20, 2014

Study: Sex-Dependent Differences in Subjective Cannabis Effects (Do Women Enjoy Pot More Than Men?)

A new article by researchers at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University explores the differences in the way men and women report their subjective experiences of the effects of cannabis. The authors reviewed data from four separate outpatient studies evaluating a range of cannabis-induced effects. In the final analysis, the subjects (35 men and 35 women) were all daily or near-daily cannabis users and their responses to standardized measures of mood, physical symptoms, and cannabis-related drug effects were recorded over time, beginning immediately after consumption.

It turns out, women were significantly more likely to report more feelings associated with enjoyment (and abuse liability) than men were:

According to the authors: "The results from this study demonstrate that when cannabis smokers are matched for use, ratings of cannabis’ subjective effects that are associated with abuse liability are higher in women compared to men. Although men and women significantly differed in body weight, sex differences were not observed for all subjective effects, including ratings of cannabis intoxication. "

In addition, cannabis use is more prevalent among men than women in the US (51.4% vs 37.4%, resp.). "Yet among cannabis smokers, women have a faster trajectory to cannabis-use disorders, which the current findings might in part explain." The authors call for more research to further explain the clinical significance of sex differences in the effects of cannabis and cannabis-use disorders.

The article by Cooper & Haney can be viewed here:


  1. It turns out, women were significantly more likely to report more feelings associated with enjoyment (and abuse liability) than men were:

    ENJOYMENT= "abuse liability" = sin

    What a great example of the continued influence of the Puritan Ethos. If U enjoy a drug it must be a sin.

    The recovery industry is doing a hostile take-over of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and re-branding it addiction.

    1. Last bit about OCD simply Not true??, a lot of addicts do turn out to have OCD and that is all!

  2. Desire and dependence, obsession and strong interest, compulsion and repeating desired behaviours: where does one end and the other begin? This is the domain where the psychology of wanting and liking, and the psychiatry of disordered intention and motivation, get messy and blurred. Some serious conceptual analysis and critical philosophical evaluation are long overdue.

  3. Well okay, so a small group of women produced higher 'liking' ratings than their males counterparts. Not much else to the study; given the cross-sectional design we don't know if this has any bearing on anything that might resemble addiction. Fewer women smoke pot, but the ones who develop addiction do so in fast-forward...same with alcohol and probably cocaine. A strong euphoric response to prescribed opioid analgesics is a risk factor for problematic use, but don't know about MJ. Still though, a rather interesting study.
    Mark Edmund Rose, MA
    Licensed Psychologist


Comments are welcome.