Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date



Background. Cannabis and tobacco have contrasting cognitive effects. Smoking cannabis with tobacco is prevalent in many countries and although this may well influence cognitive and mental health outcomes, the possibility has rarely been investigated in human experimental psychopharmacological research.

Method. The individual and interactive effects of cannabis and tobacco were evaluated in 24 non-dependent cannabis and tobacco smokers in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, 2 (cannabis, placebo) × 2 (tobacco, placebo) crossover design. Verbal memory (prose recall), working memory (WM) performance including maintenance, manipulation and attention (N-back), psychotomimetic, subjective and cardiovascular measures were recorded on each of four sessions.

Results. Cannabis alone impaired verbal memory. A priori contrasts indicated that tobacco offset the effects of cannabis on delayed recall. However, this was not supported by linear mixed model analysis. Cannabis load-dependently impaired WM. By contrast, tobacco improved WM across all load levels. The acute psychotomimetic effects and ratings of ‘stoned’ and ‘dizzy’ induced by cannabis were not altered by tobacco. Cannabis and tobacco had independent effects on increasing heart rate and interacting effects on increasing diastolic blood pressure.

Conclusions. Relative to placebo, acute cannabis impaired verbal memory and WM. Tobacco enhanced performance on WM, independently of cannabis. Moreover, we found some preliminary evidence that tobacco may offset the effects of cannabis on delayed, but not immediate, verbal recall. In contrast, the psychotomimetic and subjective effects of cannabis were unaffected by tobacco co-administration. By reducing the cognitive impairment from cannabis, tobacco coadministration may perpetuate use despite adverse health consequences.


This article was originally published in Psychological Medicine, available at doi:10.1017/S0033291717001222.

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.