Your Genes and Cannabis


cannabis leaf

So far, 37 states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, while 19 states and the  District of Columbia have also legalized its recreational use.  But recent reports show up to one-third of cannabis users get Canabis Use Disorder or CanUD, that’s cannabis addiction or using cannabis in a way that damages their health.   

Now a new study that looked at 1 million genomes has found regions of our DNA that appear linked to cannabis addiction and even schizophrenia and lung cancer. Researchers used large medical datasets that include US veterans, mostly people of European descent but also some African, East Asian, and mixed ancestries.  

The genes involved in the disorder were in regions close to the brain’s reward system involved in addiction. The same areas are linked to cigarette smoking, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, and lung cancer. The study also affirmed a stronger link between CanUD and schizophrenia. The data suggests that cannabis use “is the most preventable risk factor” for the development of schizophrenia.  Yet a National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that cannabis use jumped to seventeen percent from eleven percent in twenty-twenty-two and growing.  

It serves as a warning that just like food, drugs and chemicals we ingest or are exposed to affect our health. People must understand the consequences before deciding to imbibe. 

We are Drs. David Niesel and Norbert Herzog, at UTMB and Quinnipiac University, where biomedical discoveries shape the future of medicine.   For much more and our disclaimer go to or subscribe to our podcast. Sign up for expanded print episodes at or our podcasts at:  Medical Discovery News ( 

More Information

Multi-ancestry genome-wide association study of cannabis use disorder yields insight into disease biology and public health implications
As recreational use of cannabis is being decriminalized in many places and medical use widely sanctioned, there are growing concerns about increases in cannabis use disorder (CanUD), which is associated with numerous medical comorbidities. A genetically informed causal relationship analysis indicated a possible effect of genetic liability for CanUD on lung cancer risk, suggesting potential unanticipated future medical and psychiatric public health consequences that require further study to disentangle from other known risk factors such as cigarette smoking.

Massive genetic study finds genes linked to cannabis addiction
Data from more than one million genomes offer fresh insights into excessive cannabis use and its relationship to other diseases.

Genetic risks behind 'cannabis use disorder' found in huge study
In a study that included genetic data from more than 1 million people, scientists started to unravel the genetics of cannabis use disorder.