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New Study: Genes For Pot Addiction

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Marijuanapot-addiction is the most widely used illegal drug in the United States. There’s evidence that drug dependence increases in people with mental health issues, but not a lot of data shows an association between mental disorders and pot addiction. There have been dueling conclusions as to whether or not smoking marijuana increases the risk for depression. Essentially, there has been no scientific evidence about whether marijuana plays a role in increasing the odds of those genetically disposed to developing a disorder or whether those prone to a disorder prefer to self­-medicate.

Pot Addiction Research

The study and its findings

In a new study that was published in JAMA Psychiatry, researchers identified specific genes that are associated with cannabis addiction, some of which are also linked to an increased risk for depression and schizophrenia.

Researches studied genes of about 15,000 people to try and figure out the genetics of different types of addiction.

  • They found that 90% of respondents with marijuana addiction had a lifetime mental disorder, compared to 55% without the addiction.
  • Alcohol dependence, antisocial personality disorder, and conduct disorder had the strongest associations with marijuana dependence, followed by anxiety and mood disorders.


One of the genes studied is linked to the regulation of calcium levels, which helps brain cells communicate with one another. There’s been previous research conducted that linked these genes with risk for schizophrenia and depression and also with autism and ADHD. Strong evidence has linked ADHD with addiction risk to marijuana in particular.

Another gene that is involved in the early development of the nervous system helps to guide brain cells to their final destinations and shape the intricacies of the brain. This gene has been connected with both marijuana addiction risk and also schizophrenia.


More evidence is now on the table to support that addiction is a neurodevelopmental disorder that results from a complicated interaction between the genes and a person’s environment over time.

These findings are significant because it highlights the need for a thorough evaluation of patients who are seeking treatment, specifically for marijuana. Not identifying or addressing comorbidity can lead to an ineffective treatment plan.

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