National

Your genes could make you more likely to crave marijuana, a new study finds

In this Saturday, July 21,2018 photo Talia Serene smokes a CBD vape pen during a birthday party for one of the cofounders of the Lit.Club specializing in CBD Vape Pens and pre-rolled joints in the Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles.
In this Saturday, July 21,2018 photo Talia Serene smokes a CBD vape pen during a birthday party for one of the cofounders of the Lit.Club specializing in CBD Vape Pens and pre-rolled joints in the Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles. AP

If you smoke marijuana, your genes could be partially to blame.

That’s because a new study, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, found that there are actually 35 different genes that make a person more likely to take a puff of a joint or munch on some pot edibles.

Researchers used data from 180,000 people — some who used the ancestry company 23andMe and some who took part in 16 other studies — to look for a connection between a person’s genes and their relationship with marijuana.

People who are predisposed to developing schizophrenia and ADHD are more prone to “lifetime cannabis use,” the study found. It also determined that there’s a correlation between consuming marijuana and other types of habits and personality traits impacted by genetics.

“The study found a genetic overlap between cannabis use and the use of tobacco and alcohol,” the study’s authors wrote in a press release. “There was a similar overlap between cannabis use and personality types that were prone to more risky behavior or were more extroverted.

“This means that genetic variants impacting cannabis use partially impact other psychological or psychiatric features as well.”

But don’t think your genes can perfectly guess your likelihood of using marijuana. The study’s authors noted that a person’s genes “helped to explain approximately 11 percent of the differences in cannabis use between people.” That’s right: Just 11 percent.

One of the most noteworthy findings of the study is that those with a genetic risk for schizophrenia might self-medicate with marijuana as a way to cope with their symptoms. Some past studies have suggested the opposite — and concluded that marijuana use might actually cause or aggravate the mental illness.

Another study, this one published on August 8, suggested that it just might be the THC in marijuana causing problems.

In fact, that research found cannabidiol (CBD) in marijuana actually can help treat people who have schizophrenia. CBD is a non-psychoactive marijuana compound known to help with pain, anxiety and other ailments. But THC, the psychoactive component of weed that gives people a mental “high,” could make the mental illness worse, the study found.

Ran Barzilay, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine, told MedicalNewsToday that it’s like “playing with fire” if adolescents with a predisposition to schizophrenia smoke marijuana.

The authors of the study published in Nature Neuroscience noted that they did not disprove that cannabis can worsen or cause a person’s schizophrenia, instead writing that the relationship between the two is complicated and nuanced.

These studies come at a time when Americans’ support and use of marijuana are at an all-time high.

Sixty-one percent of people favored legalizing recreational use of marijuana in January, according to a Pew Research Center survey. That is a drastic increase over the 31 percent of Americans who said the same in 2000.

And a 2017 Yahoo News and Marist College survey found 55 million adults in the U.S. say they use marijuana monthly or yearly — while another 78 million said they have used it in the past but don’t anymore. Fifty-six percent said using pot is “socially acceptable.”

  Comments