New Genome-Wide Analysis Links Marijuana Dependence and Major Depression

New Study Links Genes to Marijuana Dependence and Major Depression

A newly published genome-wide analysis of more than 14,000 individuals has identified several gene variants that increase risk of cannabis dependence. The analysis also suggests that the genetic risk for dependence on marijuana is associated with a higher inherited risk of major depression.

The new study is published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

The study was first to identify variants that significantly increase risk for cannabis dependence. It was based on knowledge that, like alcoholism and other addictions, the risk of cannabis dependence can be inherited. The researchers wondered whether those with some forms of mental illness might also be at higher risk of cannabis dependence, as they are for addiction to other abused substances such as alcohol.

“We were surprised to find a genetic risk overlap between cannabis dependence and major depression,” said Dr. Joel Gelernter, the Foundations Fund Professor of Psychiatry, professor of genetics and of neuroscience, and senior author of the study.

Gelernter said the findings might also explain why those with schizophrenia are often diagnosed with cannabis dependence.

The analysis compared variations in the genomes of individuals who met the medical criteria for cannabis dependence with those of marijuana users who showed little or no signs of dependence. Some of the gene variants that predicted dependence are related to regulation of calcium levels aiding in the firing of neurons and in central nervous system development.

Richard Sherva of Boston University is first author of the paper.

Primary funding for the study was provided by the National Institutes of Health.

Publication: Richard Sherva, et al., “Genome-wide Association Study of Cannabis Dependence Severity, Novel Risk Variants, and Shared Genetic Risks,” JAMA Psychiatry, 2016; doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.0036

Source: Bill Hathaway, Yale University

7 Comments on "New Genome-Wide Analysis Links Marijuana Dependence and Major Depression"

  1. because we should definitely trust studies funded by the Federal Government.
    more reefer madness. i’m calling bulls**t on this study.

  2. While decriminalization/legalization is necessary, it needs to be backed up with public health announcements explaining exactly why it is needed. Its not in any way condoning the abuse of addictors, it is done bc the alternative, the drug war, has made things infinitely worse on almost every level, to include making all drugs abundantly available to any & all that wants them. We need to pull LE out of the drug biz & that will free up a lot of resources currently chasing their collective tails. When the laws create more harm and cause more damage than they prevent, its time to change the laws. The $1 TRILLION so-called war on drugs is a massive big government failure – on nearly every single level. Its way past time to put the cartels & black market drug dealers out of business. Mass incarceration has failed. We need the science of addiction causation to guide prevention, treatment, recovery & public policies. Otherwise, things will inexorably just continue to worsen & no progress will be made. The war on drugs is an apotheosis of the largest & longest war failure in history. It actually exposes our children to more harm & risk and does not protect them whatsoever. In all actuality, the war on drugs is nothing more than an international projection of a domestic psychosis, it is not the “great child protection act,” its actually the complete opposite. We need common sense harm reduction approaches desperately. MAT (medication assisted treatment) and HAT (heroin assisted treatment) must be available options. Of course, MJ should not be a sched drug at all.

    “Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.”

    • btw, genetics is always under-reported when it comes to addiction causation. This is done on purpose, I believe, to fool the American ppl into buying the drug war. The drug war has failed because its very premise is not valid. Therefore, it cant work.

  3. Yeah they use it to treat depression caused by living in a shitty world.

  4. Well that’s kind of a double sided coin from my view point I have had severe depression for over 30 years and have struggled with terrible side affects of antidepressents so as of 3 years ago I started using marijuana on a daily basis for my illness and it has really helped me.. So maybe if you never dealt with depression and started using weed it would cause depression?? But if your already depressed then just maybe that’s one way we/I find relief from my illness don’t judge everybody in the same group because believe it or not we ARE NOT all wired the same way some are mentally strong and others just are not……..

  5. So, how does this study account for the prevalence of cannabinoid receptors in our brains? depression could be linked to a lack of these chemicals; not an excess! Also the primacy of genetics is completely in question these days! with our new found knowledge of epigenetics.

  6. Anton Joseph | April 3, 2016 at 4:14 pm | Reply

    The thing is that substance abuse is linked to depression. Not marijuana at all. The factors are the same. The substance, herb or drug used is incidental.

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