Cannabis Use Can Be Predicted By Your DNA

cannabis genes DNA illustration

Thirty-five genes, when present and expressed, make you 11 percent more likely to use cannabis than people who don’t have those genes, or if they are dormant.

Scientists from various universities who are members of the International Cannabis Consortium used genetic and self-reported data from more than 180,000 individuals to come to this conclusion. Researchers drew on data from the UK Biobank, 23andMe customers who signed up for medical research with their genetic sequencing purchases, and data from other, smaller studies.

Predicting Cannabis Use From DNA

Researchers concluded genes predisposing you for alcohol and tobacco use also make it more likely you’ll smoke pot. Furthermore, cannabis use is also tied to genes that in other studies have shown to cause more extroversion and risk-taking behavior.

“The strongest finding across the different analyses was CADM2, which has been associated with substance use and risk-taking,” the study states. “Significant genetic correlations were found with 14 of 25 tested substance use and mental health–related traits, including smoking, alcohol use, schizophrenia and risk-taking.”

Plenty of other research has established that cannabis use can trigger psychotic episodes in the small percentage of people predisposed to schizophrenia. This Cannabis Consortium study confirms that association.

Genetic analyses in the study show people who have schizophrenia are more likely to use pot, and that having schizophrenia genes does make it more likely you’ll smoke weed.

cannabis use DNA table
Genetic overlap between lifetime cannabis use and other behavioral measures and predispositions. Image from: Pasman, J. et al. (2018) GWAS of lifetime cannabis use reveals new risk loci, genetic overlap with psychiatric traits, and a causal influence of schizophrenia. Nature Neuroscience.

“That is not a big surprise, because previous studies have often shown that cannabis use and schizophrenia are associated with each other. However, we also studied whether this association is causal,” said lead study author Jacqueline Vink of the Netherlands’ Radboud University. “Our study showed that people with a vulnerability to develop schizophrenia are at increased risk of using cannabis.”

The study data don’t are silent on whether the reverse correlation is true as well — that is, whether using marijuana can actually cause schizophrenia.

Read our full article on marijuana’s relationship with schizophrenia for more information.

Vink said her team isn’t finished studying the genetic links to marijuana use. The next project is to explore which genes play a role in the frequency of cannabis use and the amount of cannabis used, according to a press release about the study.

The International Cannabis Consortium is led by researchers of Radboud University, Amsterdam UMC, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, and Virginia Commonwealth University. Sixteen different research groups from Europe, North America and Australia participate in the consortium, according to the press release.

Curious if your genes predispose you to cannabis use? Want to know which strains of cannabis are best for YOUR genome? Strain Genie, an at-home cannabis DNA test, will analyze your DNA to see if you have such predispositions and will send you a personalized cannabis-health report, full of insights

About Adam Townsend 50 Articles
Adam Maxwell Townsend has been a journalist for 15 years. His reporting has covered science, technology and medicine. Currently, he edits and writes medical and pharmaceutical articles for consumer websites, including WoahStork.

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