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Impulsivity, Variation in the Cannabinoid Receptor (CNR1) and Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH) Genes, and Marijuana-Related Problems

L. Cinnamon Bidwell, Jane Metrik, John McGeary, Rohan H. C. Palmer, S. Francazio, Valerie S. Knopik

Objective: Impulsivity is associated with increased marijuana use and subsequent marijuana-related problems among marijuana users. In addition, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CNR1) and fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) genes have been associated with cannabis-related phenotypes. This exploratory study tested whether the association between different aspects of impulsivity and the number of marijuana-related problems among users is explicated by variation in these putative cannabinoid-related genes. Method: A total of 151 young adult regular marijuana users (used on M = 41.4% of the prior 60 days, SD = 24.3%) provided DNA and completed measures of trait (Barratt Impulsiveness Scale) and behavioral impulsivity (Stop Signal Task and Delay Discounting Questionnaire), as well as a self-report of marijuana-related problems. Three CNR1 and five FAAH SNPs were genotyped, tested for haplotype blocks, and subsequently examined for association with phenotypes described above. Results: CNR1 variation significantly moderated the association between trait-level, but not behavioral, impulsivity and marijuana-related problems, such that the combination of higher trait impulsivity and CNR1 variation was associated with a greater number of marijuana-related problems. In contrast, there were no significant FAAH by impulsivity interactions; however, there was a main effect of FAAH on marijuana-related problems. Conclusions: These findings support an association with CNR1 and FAAH genes and marijuana-related problems among regular marijuana users. CNR1 variation emerged as a moderator of the relationship between trait impulsivity and marijuana problems, thus suggesting that marijuana users with CNR1 risk variants and a higher trait impulsivity are at greater risk for developing marijuana-related problems and supporting a role for CNR1 in a broader impulsivity phenotype. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 74, 867878, 2013)