Cannabis Use and Neuroadaptation: A Call for Δ 9 -Tetrahydrocannabinol Challenge Studies.

Currently, the assessment of the neurobehavioral consequences of repeated cannabis use is restricted to studies in which brain function of chronic cannabis users is compared to that of non-cannabis using controls. The assumption of such studies is that changes in brain function of chronic users are caused by repeated and prolonged exposure to acute cannabis intoxication. However, differences in brain function between chronic cannabis users and non-users might also arise from confounding factors such as polydrug use, alcohol use, withdrawal, economic status, or lifestyle conditions. We propose a methodology that highlights the relevance of acute Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) dosing studies for a direct assessment of neuroadaptations in chronic cannabis users. The approach includes quantification of neurochemical, receptor, and functional brain network changes in response to an acute cannabis challenge, as well as stratification of cannabis using groups ranging from occasional to cannabis-dependent individuals. The methodology allows for an evaluation of THC induced neuroadaptive and neurocognitive changes across cannabis use history, that can inform neurobiological models on reward driven, compulsive cannabis use.


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