People Who Smoke Weed Have a Gene Making Cannabis Use More Likely
Researchers found that people who smoke weed carry a gene that makes them want to try cannabis. So if you’re wondering what makes your fingers itch to roll that joint and take a deep hit, know that it just might be your CSMD1 gene.
Link Between People Who Smoke Weed and CSMD1 Gene
Scientists have studied the effects of cannabis extensively. Some have focused on the reasons why people use cannabis. Others focused on factors that predispose people to use this plant. But they did little research on what exactly makes an individual a heavy or chronic cannabis user.
Our genes shape us. These minute subunits of our DNA carry sets of instructions that dictate what we’ll become. What our physical appearance is, how we think, how we act, how we interact with others. With this in mind, it is sound logic to assume that some genes could make us chronic cannabis users.
Finding the Smoking Gun
To look for this exact gene, researchers analyzed and studied the genes of 14,754 individuals with a mean age of 39.2 years. These samples came from three independent studies on substance dependence. Researchers followed the participants from these studies for years. They tried to understand and look for the genes responsible for the different types of addiction.
Of these subjects, 18% to 36% of them were people who smoke weed excessively and have cannabis dependence or CAD. Upon digging further, researchers identified over 20 genes responsible for cannabis dependence and addiction. However, some of these genes also play a role in several mental health problems like schizophrenia as well as major depression. This link probably explains why 90% of the people who smoke weed and are dependent or addicted to it also have mental health issues, Dr. Gelerneter, author of the research study, suggested.
Of those genes identified, one gene in particular stood out, the CSMD1 gene. This particular gene is not only present in people who smoke weed, but it’s also present in people who tried other illicit substances as well. Interestingly, the CSMD1 gene is also implicated in increased risk-taking, propensity to try new and exciting experiences, and reduced anxiety.
Limitations of the Study
Like most research studies, this study also has its own limitations.
Although the CSMD1 gene plays a role in CAD, there’s really no evidence that this is the exact gene that makes people who smoke weed develop dependence or addiction to cannabis. This gene, after all, is also involved in other types of illicit drug use and psychiatric disorders.
Social influence is also a factor in the development of CAD. While the CSMD1 gene predisposes one to cannabis use, dependence, or addiction, there’s no denying that one’s social environment also plays a huge role. Country’s policies on cannabis, accessibility of cannabis, household income, educational background, age, the prevalence of cannabis use – these are all factors that influence one’s decision to use cannabis.
Our genes, together with our interactions with our environment, influence our decision-making process.
We need more studies, of course. The worldwide legal status of cannabis is rapidly changing. These changes can greatly influence one’s choice to use cannabis.