Cannabis Could Affect Everyone Differently, According To Your DNA


Cannabis usage is increasing in South Africa, for recreational use, and medically, for the management of chronic pain and insomnia. This is likely to be accelerated by the moves towards decriminalisation for personal use. Many people see cannabis as an essentially harmless drug - the equivalent of having a beer or a glass of wine.

What is less commonly understood is that, as with all medicines, not everyone’s reaction will be the same. What is particularly concerning is that there are certain people who are genetically at a higher risk of experiencing side effects from cannabis. If you have this gene, THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana's psychotropic effects, can result in the development of psychosis, which often manifests as paranoia. It’s also been shown to increase your risk of schizophrenia.

It’s important to note that even if the cannabis is being used for medicinal reasons e.g. pain management, this risk still exists and the recommendation would be to avoid consuming THC.

Fortunately for medical purposes there are products that contain only CBD (Cannabidiol), which is the cannabis compound most commonly used for medical treatment. Consuming one of these products will not put you at risk, no matter what genes you carry.

Considering the risks involved, cannabis users would benefit from understanding their genetic predisposition to these risks, ideally before they begin using.  Fortunately DNA testing has advanced to the point where one can now be easily tested for these genes and make informed decisions. For instance, DNAlysis offers the DNA Mind test, which analyses these genes, but also 29 others that have been linked to mental health issues, including addictive behaviour, depression and eating disorders. The results of this test will put your mind at ease and allow you to fully understand any risks you may be taking when using cannabis.

For more information on the test, and where you can get it done, click here.