Does Marijuana Affect Twins Differently?

Study out of the University of Colorado looks to reveal the long term effects of marijuana use.

Even as more and more states legalize the recreational use of marijuana, there have been few long term studies focusing on the comprehensive health and social effects of marijuana use.  This lack of longitudinal data has been a point of apprehension for many who are against the legalization of cannabis. An ongoing study being conducted out of the University of Colorado now hopes to collect important data on what effects that the use of recreational marijuana has on users over time.

“Increasing numbers of states are legalizing recreational marijuana, but we know almost nothing about the health and social consequences of this dramatic and rapid shift in public policy,” John Hewitt, director of the Institute for Behavioral Genetics at CU Boulder and a co-principal investigator of an ongoing study, said in the announcement.

Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the $5.5 million study will monitor 2,500 sets of twins aged 23 to 29 in Colorado and Minnesota over a five-year span to see how using alcohol, cannabis, and other substances during adolescence and beyond affects their psychological health and social functioning.

“There is a clear need for solid scientific evidence, and the experiment now unfolding in Colorado provides a rare opportunity to accumulate such evidence,” Hewitt said.

15-20 Years of Collaborative Research

According to an announcement from CU, researchers have already been following the participants for fifteen to twenty years in a collaborative effort with the University of Minnesota. The study exploring the long term effects of marijuana consumption is just a part of this larger project.

The study will evaluate both identical and fraternal twins in hopes of discovering genetic and environmental factors that “may play a role in making some people more vulnerable than others to any negative impacts of legalization.”

Through phone and Internet surveys, the team will compare Colorado participants’ behavior from before and after January 2014, when retail cannabis sales began in this state. Half of the twins studied live in Minnesota, where the only legal form of medical marijuana is extracted oil for patients suffering from a handful of conditions. By studying both groups, the researchers believe they can gain a clearer view of how legalization of recreational marijuana, rather than that of medical marijuana, has affected these changes.

“By including twins living in Minnesota, the researchers can control for factors – aside from legalization – that might influence outcomes regardless of what state one lives in. In addition to looking at how frequently subjects are using marijuana, the researchers will also look at the methods by which people are using it (edibles, dabbing, smoking, etc.) and how potent — in terms of THC levels — it is,” the study announcement reads.

Reflecting Consumer Trends and Challenges

In trying to reflect consumer trends, researchers will look into how participants are consuming cannabis and how potent the products are. This will help to add an additional level of detail to the study, to review consumption habits, and to reveal how innovation in cannabis products alters use.

To get a comprehensive look at the lives of the participants to determine any social effects present, researchers will ask participants about:

  • Any legal or psychological challenges they’re dealing with
  • Whether or not they’re fulfilling career goals
  • The state of their family relationships

This research will offer the one of most complete looks yet at the long term role cannabis legalization plays in users’ lives.

You can find information on more studies like this and other cannabis news HERE.