A DNA study from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri contends that up to one in five cannabis users will develop cannabis-use disorder. Published in Lancet Psychiatry, WUSM researchers were looking into any potential links between genetics and the possibility of cannabis dependency. They found that two regions in human DNA may contribute to the risk of developing cannabis-use disorder.
Analyzing the DNA from 21,000 individuals with cannabis-use disorder and 360,000 individuals without the disorder, researchers found that cannabis-use disorder was linked to the region near the FOXP2 gene on chromosome 7, also linked to risk-taking behavior and speech development, and the region near the CHRNA2 gene on chromosome 8, also linked to nicotine addiction and previously linked to cannabis-use disorder in past studies.
“It has been estimated that up to 20% of those who use cannabis will develop problems,” said senior investigator Arpana Agrawal, PhD, a professor of psychiatry. “When we think about why some people who use cannabis develop problems with it, about 50% of that risk is due to genetics. We identified two variants – there are likely to be many, many more genes. While the variants that we found are not currently useful in letting someone know about their personal risk, the genetic pathways might lead to better treatments for cannabis addiction in the future.”
There’s reason to believe that aficionados and professionals in the cannabis community who advocate cannabis as a safe medicinal alternative or recreational product that is not linked to forms of substance addiction or dependency, may take this with a grain of salt.
In doing so, they will be joined with the National Institute of Mental Health, which says on its website, “Although there are common genetic variants associated with rare disorders, no gene variant can predict with certainty that a person will develop a mental disorder. In many cases, even the most well-researched genetic variant may contribute to a person’s risk only by very small amounts.”