Study reports a shared genetic basis for cannabis use and psychiatric disorders

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A new study from the University of Oslo published in the Lancet Psychiatry, reported a shared genetic basis for cannabis use and psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. These findings may indicate that a subset of the population is at high risk for both cannabis use and psychiatric disorders, based on their genetic propensity.

There has been much debate over the relationship between cannabis use and psychiatric disorders. Cannabis is a psychoactive drug which sometimes produces psychotic-like symptoms. Additionally, the rate of cannabis use is high among patients with disorders linked to psychosis, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Genetic factors play an important role in determining an individual's susceptibility to developing psychiatric disorders or their likelihood of using cannabis. Some of the genetic variants associated with cannabis use are also linked to psychiatric disorders.

This recent study, led by Drs. Weiqiu Cheng and Nadine Parker, provides evidence that shared genetic factors underlie this relationship.

This study shows that there is a shared genetic basis underlying our susceptibility to both cannabis use and certain psychiatric disorders. These findings may indicate that a subset of the population is at high risk for both cannabis use and psychiatric disorders, based on their genetic propensity."

Weiqiu Cheng, lead author

Using advanced statistical modeling, the study shows that the majority of shared variants increase the risk of both cannabis use and developing either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Still, there are some genetic variants with opposing effects, that increase the risk of cannabis use while decrease the risk of the two psychiatric disorders, suggesting a complex relationship.

"These findings are important as they show that the complex links between cannabis use and these disorders may not only be caused by cannabis use itself, but could also be driven by shared genetic susceptibility", researcher Nadine Parker says.

Cannabis is used medicinally for relief of pain and as an antidepressant in some regions of the world. Also, one component of cannabis is being considered as a potential treatment for psychosis. "Shared genetic variants with opposing effects may suggest the presence of biological mechanisms that could support the beneficial effects of cannabis", the researchers point out.

These new findings have several important clinical implications. Firstly, this information may result in personalized care including preventative and interventional measures for high-risk individuals. This may include reducing cannabis use among individuals at high genetic risk for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Secondly, future studies investigating the biological effects of the shared genetic variants may contribute to the development of more targeted treatment efforts. Finally, the improved knowledge about genetic overlap can be used to help stratify patients for more specialized treatment plans.

Journal reference:

Cheng, W., et al. (2023) The relationship between cannabis use, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder: a genetically informed study. Lancet Psychiatry.


  1. Billy Yoder Billy Yoder United States says:

    These types of Scientists never take into account the fact that a large amount of the people they are calling susceptible are probably using Cannabis to help with the mental disorders. All they look at is the data that with these DNA variants there's increased cannabis use and the mental disorders and try to link the 2 together for an agenda. This is evident by the fact that they did say there are opposite DNA variants that show high cannabis use and low mental illness.
    Lmao. All DNA variants just like Camnabis. Deal with it. ✌🏼

    • CeeJay C CeeJay C Canada says:

      These types of scientists...

      So what if there is a unique subset of users, who suffer from psychotic mental illness who seek out cannabis despite the fact that it doesn't help their condition at all. I used to work with many homeless and mentally ill people in a large shelter system. Many people enjoyed cannabis, but some would turn dangerously psychotic. You could tell at a glance if they had used it, and you knew there would be a problem.

      Pot is great for most people .. but it can be absolutely awful for some.

      It's weird how many cannabis receptors we have,... More than alcohol, but not as much for nicotine, where they are all over the body.

  2. Flanders Fields Flanders Fields United States says:

    Now I need to get high

  3. Ryan Munster Ryan Munster Canada says:

    I'm willing to put myself into anyone's research to prove cannabis does not create mental disorders.. and that it's fake research.. my body endured 30 years of cannabis exposure.. I have a love for life I work I solve problems when given tasks and I can comfortably communicate with citizens of all types in public settings.. I am proof that cannabis doesn't give mental disorders.. fake science is a big issue that republicans and conservatives has snuck taxmoney to fund..

  4. Johann Popper Johann Popper United States says:

    The link between early cannabis use and permanent life-destroying Schizophrenia in at least 1% of the population is well established (and long so, globally) with even greater resolution than the link between tobacco and lung cancer. Addicts are predisposed to think even objective harm is subjectively beneficial, as cannabis damages the amygdala, which is responsible for one's sense of self, and causes brain-wide disregulation via binding to mitochondrial cannabinoid receptors, triggering a devastating immune system reaction in the genetically predisposed. It's Russian Roulette, but private entrepreneurs and governments stand to make billions in cannabis sales, and the unbelievable suffering of 1% of the population and their families' is, quite frankly, an acceptable sacrifice. That's humanity. That's why we'll never be free.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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