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Cannabis use is a heritable trait that has been associated with adverse mental health outcomes. Along with other samples, UK Biobank data was combined to create the largest genome-wide association study (GWAS) for lifetime cannabis use to date (N=184,765). In this study, we identified 8 genetic variants and 35 genes significantly associated with individual differences in using cannabis. Together, all measured genetic variants throughout the genome explained 11% of the variance in use/non-use between individuals.
Significant genetic correlations were found with a number of substance use and mental health related traits, including smoking, alcohol use, schizophrenia and risk-taking. This confirms previous expectations that these behaviors share some overlapping genetic influences. We also found evidence that schizophrenia leads to cannabis use rather than the opposite direction of effect, which had previously been proposed. Overall, this study provides new insights into the etiology of cannabis use and its relationship with mental health.