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Marijuana has been oft-referred to as a “gateway” drug, but for whom exactly? Many of us accept that we will probably fail to outlive the constant stream of studies claiming to have debunked, or proven, that Marijuana will lead a user to go on and abuse harder illicit drugs such as cocaine or heroin. As you can easily imagine, this debate has only escalated following the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado, as advocates on both sides fling insults, excuses, and half-truths at one another. But what we can say for sure is that future generations of these THC-exposed parents (and not just in Colorado) may be the most qualified to comment, and not for a reason anyone was expecting.

According to a recent study conducted by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and published in the online journal Neuropsychopharmacology, the team started by exposing adolescent male rats to a 1.5 mg/kg dose of THC (the equivalent of a joint), then having the rats mate later in life to produce offspring. When these offspring of the THC-exposed parent rats reach adulthood, they showed a strong motivation to continually press a lever that would self-administer doses of heroin.

If you haven’t already put two and two together, this could very well spell the end for recreational sales of marijuana around the United States if similarly devastating consequences reveal themselves in Colorado, as it is one of the only states to have recently legalized the drug.Senior author of the study, and professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Yasmin Hurd, PhD, explains:

Our study emphasizes that cannabis affects not just those exposed, but has adverse affects [sic] on future generations… Finding increased vulnerability to drug addiction and compulsive behavior in generations not directly exposed is an important consideration for legislators considering legalizing marijuana.

At the end of the day, what the team has confirmed is that, yes, addiction can be passed on from generation to generation… but what we didn’t think about before was whether the problem would be exponentially worse for those future generations. It’s an interesting idea, and the evidence certainly points toward its merit, but it sounds like we very well may have to wait it out and seek what happens in Colorado.

Future studies are now being explored as to whether the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of THC-exposed parents are similarly affected.

What do you think?