Many patients who decide to medicate with medical marijuana do so because of the therapeutic relief cannabis provides without resulting in severe negative side effects. For a few patients, however, the use of marijuana may not be such an enjoyable experience, and a patient may suffer negative psychoactive side effects stemming from the cannabinoid THC; side effects like cannabis-induced psychosis. Research coming from England's University of Exeter explains the answer to these unpleasant experiences may lie in a person's genetics.
The study involving 422 participants without a history of mental illness who smoked cannabis at least once a month found those who possessed "AKT1" gene variations were more likely to suffer visual distortions, memory impairment, and paranoid delusions upon smoking cannabis, all of which indicate a person's susceptibility to the development of cannabis-induced psychosis. These findings are significant as they allow genetic testing to identify those who may want to abstain from smoking cannabis. Alternatively, by identifying the mechanism that leads to the development of psychosis, this information might lead to effective drug therapies to treat affected individuals, allowing even at-risk patients to enjoy the relief cannabis can provide. Lead author of the paper and Professor of Psychopharmacology Celia Morgan explains, "... This research could help pave the way towards the prevention and treatment of cannabis psychosis."