Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Why Some People React Badly to Marijuana

A jar full of marijuana with two joints in it.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
These days, everyone seems to be touting the benefits of marijuana. Those with anxiety say it helps them to relax. Those with depression say it elevates their mood. Some even say that marijuana relieves the symptoms of PTSD.

But for a small segment of the population, the effects of marijuana are more hellish than anything else. Do a quick search online and you’ll find countless forums on people who have had adverse reactions to it. Some of the most common complaints include terrifying hallucinations, paranoia, dizziness, vomiting, and panic attacks.

So why does marijuana produce euphoria in some and misery in others? Research points to genetics.

A recent study published in Translation Psychiatry identified a variation of the AKT1 gene as being the reason why some are more sensitive to the mind-altering effects of marijuana than others.

Dr. Celia Morgan, lead author of the study, says that while some studies suggest only 1-5% of the marijuana users end up experiencing a psychotic episode, it’s ultimately the ATKT1 gene that makes a person more susceptible to it. 

“We know relatively little about what makes certain people vulnerable to developing psychosis from smoking cannabis but this research suggests one piece in the puzzle might be this genetic difference,” Dr. Morgan stated. “Cannabis and its extracts are being increasingly recognized for their medical uses so this is another reason why it is key to keep trying to find ways of predicting who will experience negative effects from its use.”

However, Dr. Morgan was also quick to note that “much more work is needed” to fully identify what puts a person at risk, as it’s likely to be a large number of genes.

But not everyone believes that genetics are responsible for a bad trip. In fact, most marijuana websites and forums say that ingesting too much or using the wrong strain is the reason why people have bad trips. However, it’s worth noting that these are not medical experts, so take that advice for what you will.

What was your experience with marijuana? Why do you think some people react badly to it? Let me know in the comments below!   
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