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Scientist has finally discovered why some people go mad after smoking weed and why others do not, to help those vulnerable to avoid making the mistake of trying weed.
Most people smoke weed without any trouble – but around 1% of users will develop serious mental problems, scientists have said.
It is known that smoking cannabis daily doubles an individual’s risk of developing a psychotic disorder, but it has been difficult to establish who is most vulnerable.
Now scientists have identified a gene which can predict how susceptible people are to mental illness caused by cannabis.
The research, which has been carried out by scientists at the University of Exeter and University College London (UCL), also shows that female cannabis smokers are potentially more susceptible to short-term memory loss than men.
It is the first study to look at healthy people and to examine their acute response to smoking – or how the drug affects their minds.
Previous research has found a link between the AKT1 gene and people who have gone on to develop psychosis.
Professors Celia Morgan and Val Curran found that young people with variation in the “alpha serine/threonine-protein kinase AKT1” gene codes for a protein called RAC-alpha serine/threonine-protein kinase (Akt1) experienced visual distortions, paranoia and other psychotic-like symptoms more strongly when “stoned”.
Prof Morgan, professor of psychopharmacology at the University of Exeter, said: ‘These findings are the first to demonstrate that people with this AKT1 genotype are far more likely to experience strong effects from smoking cannabis, even if they are otherwise healthy.
‘To find that having this gene variant means that you are more prone to mind-altering effects of cannabis when you don’t have psychosis gives us a clue as to how it increases risk in healthy people.
‘Putting yourself repeatedly in a psychotic or paranoid state might be one reason why these people could go on to develop psychosis when they might not have done otherwise.
‘This research could help pave the way towards the prevention and treatment of cannabis psychosis.’
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