If it’s true that each of us is exceptional, yet broken in some unique way, there’s a special role for genetics to play in understanding how cannabis works for each of us. A few weeks ago I learned about the probable interconnection of our genes and cannabis on a webinar with David Krantz. Truthfully, I didn’t understand most of the technical explanations of how proteins and enzymes and cannabis work together, but I understood the gist of his ideas. And even if I didn’t, he summed it up nicely at the end. He concluded that the human response to cannabis is highly varied and at least partially genetic in origin. Fascinating!
If our individual biological construction impacts everything else about us from our hair color to our sexual orientation, it makes sense that it also impacts our experience with cannabis. The good news is that although most of the studies allowed in our country are construed through an addiction standpoint, it is clear that humans are designed for cannabis. Even in the infancy of legalized cannabis research, the number of genes connected to cannabis and health grows each and every day.
It’s obvious to everyone in the cannabis research field that the discussion of cannabis must cease to revolve around morality. Whether or not humans should have free and legal access to cannabis is not a moral issue, it is a biological need. It is now clear we are designed for cannabis. The discussion must be shifted from studying cannabis as a problematic substance to one that focuses on how cannabis can help all of us, differently. What is known now is that your individual genetic configuration impacts your individual experience quite a lot! Although we all have a homeostatic endocannabinoid system, the enzymes and receptors can vary greatly due to genetic variations.
Again, I must emphasize how little I understand the workings of biology in general, and genes and DNA specifically. David Krantz discussed how the quantity and quality of enzymes produced impacts how quickly or slowly substances break down, including other variables of your specific DNA combination, the complicated groups of proteins turning to enzymes changes and, well, basically, it’s complicated, and very personal.
What we know is that cannabis works to balance a system when balancing is required, and that based on the particular enzymes in our bodies the cannabinoids we consume through cannabis ingestion either work really well or they don’t.
I also learned that coffee has been studied in ways cannabis never has been, and that we have more data on the impact of caffeine on our nervous system than we do for the more complicated cannabis plant even though the consumption of cannabis has a more significant impact on individual human life, especially for those suffering from conditions ranging from seizures to post traumatic syndrome. We know many are being helped, even if we don’t know exactly why.
But we are getting closer, and a few genes identified that impact enzyme production, cannabinoids, and receptors are CYP2C9, FAAH and AEA/2AG. He also discussed how cannabinoid receptors can become depressed in PTSD patients which increases the possibility of severe depression. The importance of biology in who we are and how we experience things is well established in the modern world. Therefore, it follows that, with more research it will be possible to know where you are in your personal cannabinoid balance, and how that information impacts your desire to consume.
The majority of information collected on cannabis has been through cognitive performance studies which have been easier to conduct under the controlled substance burden. But moving forward we need to study the impact of cannabis on the full body. It is clear that there is a risk for certain people, and this should not be dismissed by cannabis activists. But to understand why some consume cannabis and are impacted negatively we need a better understanding of how cannabis works for each of us. We need reliable data to keep people safe. The dream, he said, is to find the perfect match of cannabis for each of our genes.
Personally, I’ve never wanted to get my DNA tested. But, if my unique genetic code could unlock my best cannabis strain, maybe it’s something to consider.