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Biology Cannabis And Psychosis


President, M³ Technical & Regulatory Services, LLC
I have noticed an uptick in the biomedical literature concering psychosis and high-potency cannabis, particularly "dabs." Here's is the most recent one I came across:

Cannabis-induced psychosis associated with high potency “wax dabs”

It turns out that polymorphisms in the AKT1 gene may mediate the acute response to cannabis, leading to a psychotic-like response.

This makes sense as the psychosis-like reaction is only noted in a small amount of users, which likely corresponds to the prevalence of this gene in human populations. (But this work has not yet been done to my knowledge...)

Furthermore, there is evidence from animal models to support the notion of AKT1 controlling this response. When THC is given to mice, the AKT1 gene is expressed in the hippocampus, striatum and cerebellum (parts of the brain). This gene creates a protein that is part of the dopamine signalling cascade that has been implicated as a possible biological explanation for increased risk of schizophrenia.

There is also some human evidence as well, as human carriers of a modifed AKT1 gene performed more poorly on tasks requiring attention.

More info on AKT1 can be found here.


President, M³ Technical & Regulatory Services, LLC
And here is some additional research implicating a different genetic polymorphism - the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) Val158Met variant. The is a Dutch study that found a synergistic effect (enhanced interaction) on development of psychosis bewteen cannabis use and the COMT Val158Met polymorphism. The aim of this study was to examine this interaction and its association with severity of subclinical symptoms in people with an At Risk Mental State (ARMS) for psychosis.



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