Marijuana triggers a rewarding high in some people while the substance brings serious psychiatric effects when other people consume it. This contradiction in the way cannabis affects its consumers has baffled the scientific community and researchers from the University of Western Ontario in Canada appear to have uncovered the reason for this difference.
The scientists suggest that how one is affected by marijuana may depend on which part of the brain is acted upon by the substance. For some people, the highly rewarding “high” they experience after consuming marijuana can increase their likelihood of becoming addicted to cannabis. For others, the consumption of cannabis can result in paranoia, schizophrenia and other cognitive problems.
The study done on rodents reveals the different regions of the brain which account for these different effects of taking marijuana.
The scientists discovered that the THC in marijuana triggers highly rewarding effects when it reaches the front part of the nucleus accumbens, a region found at the front of the brain. Furthermore, the research showed that once THC reaches this part of the brain, it magnifies the reward-related activity of the brain neurons in the area thereby amplifying the addictive attributes of opioids like morphine.
In contrast, if THC gets to the posterior of the region of the brain referred to earlier (the nucleus accumbens), highly adverse effects result. These effects are typically similar to what is observed in people who have schizophrenia-like behavioral, cognitive and neural activity.
Christopher Norris, PhD, one of the lead authors of the study, explains that the findings above are very important because they provide valuable insights to explain why the experience of some people is positive when they use marijuana while others have a negative experience after using the same strain or amount of marijuana in the same consumption method.
The scientists go on to suggest that since the reward or aversion comes from different parts of the brain, the individuals who experience one of these two distinct effects seem to be genetically predisposed to have different regions of their nucleus accumbens affected by the THC in marijuana. If the sensitivity of the different parts of the nucleus accumbens is determined by genetics, then marijuana users can forestall future issues by refraining or reducing their use of the substance if they notice that they experience adverse effects each time they use cannabis.
These findings have analysts wondering whether industry players like Plus Products Inc. (CSE: PLUS) (OTCQB: PLPRF) and Organigram Holdings Inc. (TSX.V: OGI) (NASDAQ: OGI) may consider developing methods to help people know whether they are likely to experience positive or adverse effects after using cannabis.
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