With increasing access to legal cannabis across the globe, it is imperative to more closely study its behavioral and physiological effects. Furthermore, with the proliferation of cannabis use, modes of consumption are changing, with edible formulations becoming increasingly popular. Nevertheless, there are relatively few animal models of self-administration of the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, Δ 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and almost all incorporate routes of administration other than those used by humans. The aim of the current study was to develop a model of edible THC self-administration and assess its impact on CB1 receptor-mediated behaviors in female and male mice.
Mice were given limited access to a palatable dough which occasionally contained THC in doses ranging from 1 to 10 mg/kg. Following dough consumption, mice were assessed for home cage locomotor activity, body temperature, or analgesia. Locomotor activity was also assessed in conjunction with the CB1 receptor antagonist SR141716A.
Dough was well-consumed, but consumption decreased at the highest THC concentrations. Edible THC produced dose-dependent decreases in locomotor activity and body temperature in both sexes, and these effects were more pronounced in male mice. Hypolocomotion induced by edible THC was attenuated by SR141716A, indicating mediation by CB1 receptor activation.
In contrast to other cannabinoid self-administration models, edible THC is relatively low in stress and uses a route of administration analogous to one used by humans. Potential applications include chronic THC self-administration, determining THC reward/reinforcement, and investigating consequences of oral THC use.