Have you ever shared a smoke session with someone and found that they didn’t have the same effects as you? Or perhaps, you’ve had people tell you that cannabis just doesn’t “do” anything to them. While some might believe that these are hyperbole or flat out lies, the truth is that not everyone responds to cannabis the same way. The answer to this riddle can be found in each person’s DNA, the double helix which contains genes that code a person’s response to cannabis. This week, we’re examining the connections between genetics, the environment, and how they influence the cannabis response.
The Genetic Makeup of the Cannabis Response
The genes in our DNA map our lives, as well as code functional proteins that influence our body’s responses. Different abilities, such as seeing, muscle contractions, or metabolizing cannabinoids can be coded by certain types of genes. When it comes to cannabis, these functional proteins are also known as receptors and enzymes that interact with cannabis and allow us to feel its effects. A person's cannabis response depends almost entirely on these receptors and enzymes.
Receptors and Cannabis
Receptors are cell membranes that bind to external compounds and produce reactions inside the cell. CB1 and CB2 receptors are known for being the two types of receptors in the body that interact with cannabis. Scientists have discovered nine variations of the gene that codes the CB1 receptor and four variations of the gene that codes the CB2 receptor. All in all, that means there are 36 possible combinations of CB1 and CB2 receptors, thereby greatly influencing their interaction with cannabis.
Enzymes to Metabolize Cannabis
Enzymes work to breakdown molecules and, essentially, help metabolize them for the body’s cells. There are three known enzymes (CYP2C9, CYP2C19, and CYP3A4) that work to breakdown cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. Of course, these enzymes also have different genetic variants. Furthermore, studies have shown that individuals with the CYP2CP*3 enzyme variant have three times the amount of THC in their blood after consuming cannabis than those with CYP2CP*1.
Environmental Factors to Consider
Nonetheless, there is an argument for environmental influence on an individual’s cannabis response. An analysis of 28 twin studies on males and females examining the genetic and environmental factors of cannabis was able to shed some light on the subject. In 2011, researchers discovered that the women who were studied were more likely to start using cannabis in a shared environment. That is to say, these participants were more likely to use cannabis in company than if they were on their own, which could play a part in their body’s cannabis response. On the other hand, the study also showed that cannabis use initiation and problematic use of cannabis were inheritable.
Time to Enjoy
Although environmental factors shouldn’t be disregarded, genetics most significantly influence a person’s cannabis response. Anyone curious to learn more about their personal cannabis response should study their family history. If you are searching for more cannabis education and information, visit our Instagram. Those hunting for strain recommendations or tips on selecting smoking accessories, be sure to check out the Parkdale Brass blog. While you’re there, remember to visit our shop as our brass accessories will be restocked shortly!