Cannabis addiction: DNA raw data used to identify craving, withdrawal and sensitivity to cannabis use

23andme cannabis information provides insights into dependency and side effects that this drug could possibly bring about. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 22.2 million people used it in a month in the U.S. This makes it the most popularly used contraband drug in the world, and the most widely used among the younger population. Certain estimates state that 1% of the European population use cannabis every day.


Why is using 23andme data for identifying the response to Cannabis important?

Cannabis is now being introduced in a few states for medicinal purpose. To better manage the problems associated with cannabis use, the 23andme cannabis data can be used for

  • What makes some people get initiated into use
  • What makes people get addicted to it

Finding out the risk of addiction will help in putting together effective management strategies that will restrict use, solely for medicinal purpose.

What are some of negative aspects of cannabis use?

The regular use of cannabis can lead to

  1. Increased risk of accidents, aggressive behaviour and suicidal attempts
  2. Affects the quality of work carried out by the individual.

Understanding the heredity pattern of 23andme cannabis dependence

There have always been speculation that cannabis and other narcotic drug use runs in the family. There have been moderate parent-child and sibling association with cannabis dependence.


A study by Merikangas et al.showed that there was increased risk for cannabis use disorders among children and siblings.  A meta analysis of twin studies conducted showed that genetic influence on cannabis use was

  • 48% for males
  • 40% for females

The same study showed that the genetic influence on problematic cannabis use was

  • 51% for males
  • 59% for females

CB1 and CB2 receptors – cannabis binding receptors

The cannabinoid receptor 1 is a G protein-coupled receptor  and is known to modulate the effects of cannabis. A high concentration of this receptor is expressed on axons and terminals of neurons and glial elements, via the  central nervous system. These receptors are also found in thyroid, liver, pituitary and fat cells, apart from the spinal cord.


One of the important roles of the CB1 receptor is to modulate the release of neurotransmitters which are known to maintain homeostasis by preventing excessive neuronal activity in the central nervous system. The body produces certain cannabinoids, known as endocannabinoids, that bind to these receptors to keep the excitatory neurotransmitters under control. Certain studies have also shown that these receptors are associated with the regulation of food intake, and thereby, in obesity.


The other cannabinoid receptor, CB2, has been associated with a number of disease conditions including atherosclerosis, neurodegenerative disease, neuropathy and cancer. This receptor is found in certain neurons and, largely, in immune cells. Specifically, these receptors are present on T and B cells of the immune system, as well as in the peripheral nervous system, gastrointestinal system and in the central nervous system.


Use your 23andme cannabis data to find your cannabis response

In a study conducted by Hopfer et al, among people of different ethnicities Caucasian, Hispanic and African-American, people with the G allele for rs806380 were found to have a protective effect.


Upload your 23andme raw data or your Ancestry DNA raw data to find the variant of rs806380  that you carry.

AA[Advantage] More likely to have decreased risk of cannabis dependence
CTMore likely to have moderately decreased risk of cannabis dependence

Ancestry raw data can be used to identify variants in multiple genes that have been shown to be associated with initiation of cannabis use or symptoms of dependence. Of significance are rs806368 (CRB1), rs1406977 (CNR1), rs1049353 (CNR1) rs2501432 (CRB2), rs324420 (FAAH) and more.

Can 23andme cannabis data be used to identify craving and withdrawal symptoms?

Research studies have shown that the genetic variants carried by an individual can be used to determine the following

  1. Craving
  2. Withdrawal symptoms
  3. Sensitivity to the effects of cannabis

Craving for cannabis: The mesocorticolimbic dopamine transmission, modulated by CB1 binding, has been associated with feelings of cannabis craving.  Craving and absence of control over drug use can lead to severe addiction.

Withdrawal symptoms: There is a decrease in mesocorticolimbic dopamine transmission, which is mediated by lowered CB1 binding

Cannabis sensitivity:  Sensitivity to cannabis is associated with genetic variants carried, with positive reactions during early teens associated with greater risk of dependence later.


In a study conducted by researchers from Mind Research Network, Yale, showed that people with the C allele of FAAH C385A had greater craving for cannabis on abstinence, more severe withdrawal symptoms and increased positive association and fewer negative association on cannabis use.


How will finding out 23andme cannabis variant help?

Our body produces its own version of cannabis: Endocannabinoids like anandamide are synthesized by the body which can be used to produce the positive feeling and reduce cravings among people at high risk.


  1. Eat chocolates: Chocolates have been found to suppress the effect of FAAH, thereby, increasing the production of anadaminde.  
  2. Reduce stress: Excessive stress can lead to increased secretion of glucocorticoid and resulting in reduced endocannabinoid secretion.  
  3. Increase exercise: Exercise increases the sensitivity of the CB1 receptor, thereby increasing production of anandamide


DNA raw data can be used to identify cannabis dependence, craving, withdrawal symptoms and sensitivity which will help in moderating intake based on effect. Information on cannabis response is provided as part of Xcode’s substance dependence report.



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