There are a lot of questions as to why people report experiencing contradicting effects when they take cannabis. For example, some users say cannabis makes them sleepy, while others say it makes them too paranoid.
Sure, different strains affect users differently. It all boils down to the THC to CBD ratio. But even if we are talking about the same strain, different people still have different reactions to the drug. Why is this?
A new study suggests that there might be an underlying genetic factor behind why cannabis has positive effects on some people yet has negative effects on others. And when we say negative, we are talking about something along the lines of psychosis and paranoia.
The recently published study, conducted by researchers at the University of Western Ontario, found the relationship between THC and nucleus accumbens in the brain. This relationship is responsible for aversion processing and reward behavior.
It turns out that if THC is processed in the front portion of the nucleus accumbens, you are likely to have feelings of euphoria and a positive experience. However, if THC attaches to the receptors found in the anterior of the nucleus accumbens, you are likely to experience adverse effects and symptoms, such as paranoia.
And here’s the catch: where THC attaches itself — whether it is to the frontal nucleus accumbens or the anterior nucleus accumbens — is not something you have control over. Your mood or your personality type doesn’t have anything to do with it. Rather, it is your genetic predisposition that controls it.
According to Christopher Norris, PhD candidate at Western University, the findings of the study are important because they try to explain why some users have a very positive experience with cannabis while other users have a very negative one.
In his statement, Norris explained that because reward and aversion are produced by areas in the brain that are anatomically distinct, these different effects to different individuals are likely caused by genetic variation. Genetic predisposition, he said, leads to differential sensitivity of each area.
These preliminary findings will clear the path to further research and scientific investigation on the factors that affect or contribute to paranoia. Perhaps it will also lead to a better understanding of cannabis-induced psychosis, which affects some cannabis users.