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By Adalid Van Duijn

It is a question that has plagued stoner social gatherings since time immemorial: Why is it some mates can smoke an entire ounce and still be standing, while others have a few tokes and are down for the count? Could it be tolerance, their lunch that day, or is there more to it? Read on to find out why cannabis affects everyone differently.


Some of the best memories are those parties where someone starts passing around a bong. Before you know it, the room is filled with dank smoke and everyone is having a good time. Except, of course, for that one person. The one who has taken too many hits and is convinced they are having an out of body experience.

While this would usually descend into some laughing and joking at their expense, it turns out they may not be able to help the fact that cannabis affects them differently. It is true that your overall tolerance, state of mind, and even physical fitness play a big part in how you react to cannabinoids entering your body. There is, however, one difference that unites all cannabis users: a unique genetic structure.



Our DNA defines who we are. Whether we have brown or blond hair, are short or tall—every one of us is slightly different. Our genes are passed down through the combination of DNA provided by our parents. For the most part, portions of our DNA will be copies of our parents' genetic code. Unless, however, there are genetic mutations in our DNA. Not the kind that lets you swing from rooftop to rooftop or turn invisible, but the type that can make you feel the effect of weed more profoundly.

Research has shown those mutations can extend to a particular gene that influences cognitive ability when THC is present. Those with a “functional polymorphism” in the COMT Val gene experienced greater memory impairment from THC, while carriers of the COMT Met gene were unaffected. The reason that cannabis is so susceptible to variations in our DNA lies in the way the substance interacts with our body.

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