New Study Examines Why THC Produces Negative Effects in Some Users

It’s a scene all-too familiar to stoners. A joint is passed around at a party, shuffling from hand to hand amid a plume of smoke, until it arrives in the possession of a friend who—come to think of it, you’ve actually never gotten high with. And then your learn why: weed, he says, makes me anxious, paranoid. For him, unlike the rest of the party-goers, this is not an escape. 

It can be a confounding mystery to those for whom cannabis elicits pleasure, ecstasy, munchies, non-stop giggles. But now, new research released this month offers crucial insight on those differences. The research, conducted by Western University in Ontario, Canada and published in Scientific Reports, offers a unique window into the disparate effects of cannabis—and more specifically, its chief psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC—has on the brain.

The researchers used rats to learn how THC can more acutely affect different parts of the brain, discovering that if the front is more sensitive, the results of consuming cannabis will yield more pleasurable effects, be they relaxation or euphoria. But if the back part of your brain is more affected, you’ll likely experience more adverse reactions, such as paranoia or fear.

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