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Parental Marijuana Use Could Lead to Offspring Compulsive Heroin-Seeking

By Laureano Andrade Vicenty 7/14/15

picture of heroin marijuana stats

Marijuana a harmless drug?

      With all that is going on with marijuana in certain states, I thought it to be appropriate to write an article on the like. The following article is based upon a peer-reviewed study published in Neuropsychopharmacology: Official Publication Of The American College Of Neuropsychopharmacology on May 1, 2014, by Henrietta Szutorisz et al, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA titled “Parental THC Exposure Leads to Compulsive Heroin-Seeking and Altered Striatal Synaptic Plasticity in the Subsequent Generation”.

What is Marijuana?

     So before we talk about the very provocative title, let’s first discuss abit of what marijuana is. Marijuana is the common name referring to the flowers, seeds, and stems from the hemp plant, Cannabis Sativa. The main component of marijuana that gives you such a bomb trip, is called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive, brain chemistry-altering drug. Graphical results of study

Study? What study?

     The authors, Szutorisz et al, set to prove a causal relationship between use of THC, and subsequent behavioral changes assosciated with the rat’s offpsring, and here is the basic outline. Szutorisz utilized evaporated saline(salt) solution containing THC(50mg/ml) to administer the THC to the parental rats(labeled F1 THC on graphs). The rats that did not receive THC, were the control rats, and received only the evaporated saline solution without THC(labeled F1 VEH on graph). The offspring from these rats, after 51 days post natal, had a catheter(think those clear cables you see in patients in hospital shows like House) placed within a large vein to deliver heroin on demand(30ug/kg/i.v.). These offspring would press a lever 5 times, and they would receive heroin. The offspring, whose parents received THC, but they themselves did not, hit the lever on average roughly 40% more times then the offspring whose parents did not utilize THC(Figure 1D)! In another offspring group, in which receiving heroin was also assossciated with increased workload, the numbers were much less stagnant, but still the offspring whose parents received THC were still using more heroin(Figure 1C). The offspring whose parents utilized THC were also slightly heavier, although food distribution was the same(Figure 1B). The conclusion? These findings demonstrate that parental history of THC exposure affects the molecular characteristics of portions of the brain, and can impact offspring behavioral tendencies, such as addiction and compulsive heroin use.

What does it mean?

So what does the mean for us? Well, these experiments were done in rats, not humans, and so this is not a direct study on human health and marijuana. However, as humans and mice are both mammals, one would expect to see similarities in experimental results. Historically, this tends to be the case, and so, this study says a lot about the potential for damage marijuana can extract on it’s users when thinking of the long term. This is not to say, however, that marijuana is a "bad" drug, but that some of these things need to be considered whilst making a choice as to defend regular use of marijuana, if not for yourself, for your child.


Szutorisz, Henrietta, Jennifer A. Dinieri, Eric Sweet, Gabor Egervari, Michael Michaelides, Jenna M. Carter, Yanhua Ren, Michael L. Miller, Robert D. Blitzer, and Yasmin L. Hurd. "Parental THC Exposure Leads to Compulsive Heroin-seeking and Altered Striatal Synaptic Plasticity in the Subsequent Generation." Neuropsychopharmacology: Official Publication Of The American College Of Neuropsychopharmacology 39.6 (2014): 1315-323. Web. 14 July 2015.

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