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Estrogen increases cannabis sensitivity
Date:9/2/2014

PULLMAN, Wash. - Smoking today's concentrated pot might be risky business for women, according to new research from Washington State University. The study is the first to demonstrate sex differences in the development of tolerance to THC.

Psychology professor Rebecca Craft showed that, thanks to their estrogen levels, female rats are at least 30 percent more sensitive than males to the pain-relieving qualities of THCthe key active ingredient in cannabis. Females also develop tolerance to THC more quickly. These sensitivities could increase vulnerability to negative side effects like anxiety, paranoia and addiction.

The findings were recently published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

The research was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Many unknowns

Craft said other researchers, like Margaret Haney at the Columbia University Medical Center, have shown that women are more susceptible to cannabis abuse and dependence than men. Haney has documented a cannabis withdrawal syndrome of irritability, sleep disruption and decreased food intake that Craft said tends to be more severe in women. Women also have a greater tendency to relapse when trying to stop using the drug.

Despite the known differences in how marijuana affects the sexes, Craft said most THC tolerance studies have been done on males.

With recent legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington and Coloradoand many more states allowing medicinal useCraft said there is greater burden on researchers to understand the effects of cannabis and ferret out differences between males and females.

She said the "munchie effect" appears to be the only THC reaction where males show more sensitivity than females. Studies in California found that THC stimulated the appetites of male animals more than those of females.

Cannabis complex

The marijuana plant contains mor
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Contact: Rebecca Craft
craft@wsu.edu
509-335-5040
Washington State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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