Interactions between opioids and cannabinoids: Economic demand for opioid/cannabinoid mixtures

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5 Scopus citations


Background: Opioid abuse remains a significant public health challenge. With continuing emergence of novel psychoactive substances (e.g., synthetic cannabinoids found in “K2” or “spice” preparations), the co-administration of opioids and other novel drugs is likely to become more prevalent, which might increase the risk for abuse and other adverse effects. This study examined whether the synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist JWH-018 alters the reinforcing effectiveness of the mu opioid receptor agonist remifentanil in rhesus monkeys (n = 4) using economic demand analyses. Methods: Lever presses delivered intravenous infusions of a drug or drug mixture according to a fixed-ratio schedule. For each condition, the ratio progressively increased in quarter-log unit steps across sessions yielding a demand curve: consumption (infusions obtained) was plotted as a function of price (fixed-ratio value). Results: When available alone, remifentanil (0.00032 mg/kg/infusion) occasioned the highest consumption at the lowest cost and highest essential value, while JWH-018 (0.0032 mg/kg/infusion) alone occasioned lower unconstrained demand and essential value. Unconstrained demand for a mixture of remifentanil and JWH-018 was lower than for remifentanil alone, but essential value of the mixture was not significantly different from that of remifentanil alone. Conclusion: These data indicate that synthetic cannabinoids such as JWH-018 might alter some aspects of opioid self-administration (i.e., decreased consumption at the lowest price) but do not enhance reinforcing effectiveness as measured by sensitivity of consumption to increasing costs. Opioid/cannabinoid mixtures do not appear to have greater or lesser abuse potential compared with opioids alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108043
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Cannabinoid
  • Drug mixture
  • Economic demand
  • JWH-018
  • Opioid
  • Remifentanil
  • Rhesus monkey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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