Translational Psychiatry volume 8, Article number: 89 (2018)
There is a strong association between cannabis use and schizophrenia but the underlying cellular links are poorly understood. Neurons derived from human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) offer a platform for investigating both baseline and dynamic changes in human neural cells. Here, we exposed neurons derived from hiPSCs to Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and identified diagnosis-specific differences not detectable in vehicle-controls. RNA transcriptomic analyses revealed that THC administration, either by acute or chronic exposure, dampened the neuronal transcriptional response following potassium chloride (KCl)-induced neuronal depolarization. THC-treated neurons displayed significant synaptic, mitochondrial, and glutamate signaling alterations that may underlie their failure to activate appropriately; this blunted response resembles effects previously observed in schizophrenia hiPSC- derived neurons. Furthermore, we show a significant alteration in THC-related genes associated with autism and intellectual disability, suggesting shared molecular pathways perturbed in neuropsychiatric disorders that are exacerbated by THC.
In summary, we found significant associations of THC- related pathways to autism and intellectual disability. Furthermore, we have used a dynamic, human-relevant system to demonstrate a phenotypic link between THC treatment and schizophrenia. We hypothesize that THC exposure, by impacting many of the same synaptic and epigenetic pathways already associated with psychiatric disorders, may serve as an additive risk to existing genetic/ epigenetic risk factors.
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Camilla Turner, education editor 15 JUNE 2018
There has been a 114 per cent rise in those aged over 40 seeking help from drug clinics, citing cannabis as their primary health concern
It used to be thought of as the drug of choice among the younger generations. But now researchers have found a huge increase in cannabis use among those aged over 40 who have become addicted to super-strength skunk.
Using data from Public Health England, researchers from York University examined trends in the characteristics of people seeking help from specialist drug treatment services over the past decade.
They found that there has been a 114 per cent rise in those aged over 40 seeking help from drug clinics, citing cannabis as their primary health concern.
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All Young Cannabis Users Face Psychosis Risk (Medscape and JAMA Psychiatry) June 15, 2018
Cannabis use directly increases the risk for psychosis in teens, new research shows. A large prospective study of teens shows that "in adolescents, cannabis use is harmful" with respect to psychosis risk, study author Patricia J. Conrod, PhD, professor of psychiatry, University of Montreal, Canada, told Medscape Medical News.
The study included 3720 adolescents from the Co-Venture cohort, which represents 76% of all grade 7 students attending 31 secondary schools in the greater Montreal area.
Cannabis use, in any given year, predicted an increase in psychosis symptoms a year later, said Conrod. This type of analysis is more reliable than biological measures, such as blood tests, said Conrod. "Biological measures aren't sensitive enough to the infrequent and low level of use that we tend to see in young adolescents," she said.
The effect was observed for the entire cohort. This finding, said Conrod, means that all young cannabis users face psychosis risk, not just those with a family history of schizophrenia or a biological factor that increases their susceptibility to the effects of cannabis.
"The whole population is prone to have this risk," she said.
In light of these results, Conrod called for increased access by high school students to evidence-based cannabis prevention programs.
The study was published online June 6 in JAMA Psychiatry.
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RATES OF CHILDHOOD EXPOSURES ARE ON THE RISE
In our latest report, Childhood Poisoning: Safeguarding Young Children from Addictive Substances, we evaluated data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), among other sources, and found the number of babies and preschoolers exposed to marijuana is on the rise. In fact, between 2006 and 2013, the rate of marijuana exposures among children aged five and younger increased by 148 percent. Moreover, the number of young children accidentally exposed to marijuana increased every year from 2013 through 2016.
In Colorado alone, rates of marijuana exposure in young children increased 150 percent from 2014 to 2016, when the study was published. Half of these exposures involved legal, recreational marijuana.
THE DANGERS OF MARIJUANA FOR SMALL CHILDREN
Edibles, the most likely culprit of marijuana exposures among young children, often contain more THC (the psychoactive part of marijuana) than marijuana in other forms. Furthermore, when compared to adults, children tend to experience more severe clinical effects from marijuana exposure. Effects can range from lethargy, difficulty concentrating and slurred speech to respiratory depression and even seizures.
Through our research, we have found an increase in serious medical outcomes among young children exposed to marijuana.
KEEPING CHILDREN SAFE
As additional states consider legalizing marijuana for either medical or recreational purposes, safeguarding children from accidentally ingesting edibles and other marijuana products must be a priority. Parents, physicians, and policymakers all have a role to play in keeping children safe.
For parents: if you own marijuana products or other potentially harmful addictive substances, take steps to ensure your kids are unable to access them. Keep products in child-resistant and opaque packaging (if available), and ensure all addictive substances are kept out of sight and out of reach.
For physicians: stay informed about the symptoms of marijuana exposure and take time to educate parents about what to look for if they suspect their child has accidentally consumed a product that contains marijuana.
For policymakers: if your state has legalized marijuana for any purpose, or is considering legalizing marijuana, advocate for clear on-package labeling indicating the product contains marijuana. Mandate it be sold in child-resistant, opaque and re-sealable packaging. Additionally, regulate the appearance of marijuana edibles to ensure they do not resemble candy or other sweets. Propose laws or ordinances limiting the amount of THC allowed in marijuana edibles.
With a multifaceted, comprehensive approach, we know we can limit childhood exposures to marijuana, even as it is becoming more accessible in the United States.
Kathy Donaghy June 10 2018
Any debate around the legalisation of cannabis must take into account the harm it causes, one of the country's leading psychiatrists has warned.
Consultant psychiatrist Dr Matthew Sadlier is calling for a public health campaign to educate people about the dangers of cannabis use.
As attitudes to cannabis use become more relaxed and tolerance increases in society in general, Dr Sadlier says many young people's lives are being wrecked by habitual use of the drug - and that this side of the story is not being heard.
In his work as a general adult psychiatrist in north Dublin over the last five years, he says he could comfortably say that a third of all his patients had been referred because of cannabis.
"There are people out there who have developed long-term psychotic illnesses from smoking cannabis. If they'd never smoked it, they would never have developed it. We know that acute usage causes neurological conditions. The question is does it have a long-term effect?
"We know that the younger you start smoking it, the more likely it is to have a lasting, damaging effect. What gets my blood boiling is that it's also carcinogenic. We have spent 40 years getting cigarette smoking down, but smoking cannabis has the same negative effects as cigarette smoking," says Dr Sadlier.
"I think there has to be a public health campaign because the information out there for young people is very confused. We have people speaking up for the medicinal effects. Street cannabis is a very different thing and it's very dangerous," he says.
"I have seen families ripped apart by cannabis use. I've seen people with good futures ahead of them fall into apathy due to chronic cannabis use. People need to be educated about this. In my opinion, it's much more dangerous than alcohol," says Dr Sadlier.
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