Those who are canna-curious, but never have any experience with marijuana understandably have fears diving into the deep end. First, should you smoke it, take an edible, use a THC-infused bath bomb? How do I consume cannabis and maintain a healthy lifestyle…isn’t it gonna lock me on the couch?
But one of the biggest fears from those with little experience—will I have an adverse reaction to smoking pot?
Canadian scientists tried to answer that question by determining if an individual’s genetic makeup could determine how they’d respond to THC, the cannabinoid responsible for inducing psychoactive sensations. What genetic technology expert John Lem of Lobos Genetics discovered was that genes could predict several key factors: your body’s metabolization of the drug, whether cannabis was more likely to induce paranoia into your systems, as well as the possibilities of memory loss and developing schizophrenia.
All scientists would have to do, Lem attests, is a simple cheek swab that would test three different genes that could answer all those questions.
“Looking into the science, we came to the conclusion that there is actually a genetic basis for someone’s reaction to THC,” Lem told CBC. “”If people understand how their body reacts to cannabis, that’s a good thing,” he added.
However, another expert cautioned that such a genetic test could provide all the answers with 100% accuracy. Dr. Bernard Le Foll, a team member with the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health that created recommendations around cannabis usage, was quick to remind everyone that “there has been limited research done on cannabis.” He urged the need for tests with a larger number of participants before drawing any substantive conclusions.
In addition, Le Foll said more factors are at play when understanding the body’s reactions to a type of drug like cannabis. Maybe in the future we’ll be better at accurately predicting someone’s response to marijuana, though “we’re not there just yet.”
“The type of environment, the type of previous drug exposure, the dose — that is all very important, possibly more important than genetics,” added Le Foll.
While we can’t fully know how cannabis will affect each individual, Lem added his test is only to help consumers make better decisions. As edible products hit stores this fall in Canada, it’s important people know not to take more than they need. But I’m not sure we needed a genetics test to help consumers understand not to be gluttons when using marijuana.