Michael A. P. Bloomfield, Abhishekh H. Ashok, Nora D. Volkow, Oliver D. Howes
Published in Nature
17 November 2016
The effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, are a pressing concern for global mental health. Patterns of cannabis use are changing drastically owing to legalization, the availability of synthetic analogues (commonly termed spice), cannavaping and an emphasis on the purported therapeutic effects of cannabis. Many of the reinforcing effects of THC are mediated by the dopamine system. Owing to the complexity of the cannabinoid-dopamine interactions that take place, there is conflicting evidence from human and animal studies concerning the effects of THC on the dopamine system. Acute THC administration causes increased dopamine release and neuron activity, whereas long-term use is associated with blunting of the dopamine system. Future research must examine the long-term and developmental dopaminergic effects of THC.
Bloomfield MAP, Ashok AH, Volkow ND, Howes OD. The effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol on the dopamine system. Nature. 2016;539(7629):369-377. doi:10.1038/nature20153