Single- and Cross-Commodity Delay Discounting of Cannabis


Despite extensive literature that has identified high rates of delay discounting as a behavioral correlate of substance misuse, associations of cannabis use measures and delay discounting are less consistent. Furthermore, there is very limited research examining cannabis use using cross-commodity delay discounting tasks, where the immediate and delayed outcomes are different commodities.


Using conventional single-commodity delay discounting tasks for money and cannabis outcomes as well as cross-commodity delay discounting tasks (i.e., cannabis now vs. money later, money now vs. cannabis later), we examined associations of delay discounting rates with cannabis use frequency, cannabis use disorder symptom count, cannabis-related problems, and craving among young adult cannabis users (N = 115; M age = 20.7, SD = 2.6; M cannabis use days per month = 15.5, SD = 10.0).


Although associations between cannabis use measures and rates of delay discounting in single-commodity conditions were modest, significant associations were observed with delay discounting rates in cross-commodity conditions. Of note, regression and model comparison analyses generally showed positive associations of cannabis measures with immediate cannabis versus delayed money delay discounting rates, and negative associations of cannabis measures with immediate money versus delayed cannabis delay discounting rates.


The results suggest that problematic cannabis use may not be strictly associated with the inability to wait for delayed outcomes, as suggested by previous research implementing single-commodity delay discounting tasks, but also with a willingness to wait for delayed access to cannabis.

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