Genetic and environmental influences on cannabis use initiation and problematic use: A meta-analysis of twin studies

Verweij, Karin J. H., Zietsch, Brendan P., Lynskey, Michael T., Medland, Sarah E., Neale, Michael C., Martin, Nicholas G., Boomsma, Dorret I. and Vink, Jacqueline M. (2010) Genetic and environmental influences on cannabis use initiation and problematic use: A meta-analysis of twin studies. Addiction, 105 3: 417-430. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02831.x

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Author Verweij, Karin J. H.
Zietsch, Brendan P.
Lynskey, Michael T.
Medland, Sarah E.
Neale, Michael C.
Martin, Nicholas G.
Boomsma, Dorret I.
Vink, Jacqueline M.
Title Genetic and environmental influences on cannabis use initiation and problematic use: A meta-analysis of twin studies
Journal name Addiction   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1360-0443
Publication date 2010-03
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02831.x
Volume 105
Issue 3
Start page 417
End page 430
Total pages 14
Place of publication Abingdon, U.K.
Publisher Blackwell
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Because cannabis use is associated with social, physical and psychological problems, it is important to know what causes some individuals to initiate cannabis use and a subset of those to become problematic users. Previous twin studies found evidence for both genetic and environmental influences on vulnerability, but due to considerable variation in the results it is difficult to draw clear conclusions regarding the relative magnitude of these influences.

A systematic literature search identified 28 twin studies on cannabis use initiation and 24 studies on problematic cannabis use. The proportion of total variance accounted for by genes (A), shared environment (C) and unshared environment (E) in (i) initiation of cannabis use and (ii) problematic cannabis use was calculated by averaging corresponding A, C and E estimates across studies from independent cohorts and weighting by sample size.


For cannabis use initiation, A, C and E estimates were 48%, 25% and 27% in males and 40%, 39% and 21% in females. For problematic cannabis use A, C and E estimates were 51%, 20% and 29% for males and 59%, 15% and 26% for females. Confidence intervals of these estimates are considerably narrower than those in the source studies.


Our results indicate that vulnerability to both cannabis use initiation and problematic use was influenced significantly by A, C and E. There was a trend for a greater C and lesser A component for cannabis use initiation compared to problematic use for females. © 2010 Society for the Study of Addiction.
Keyword Cannabis
Twin research
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2011 Collection
School of Medicine Publications
School of Psychology Publications
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Created: Tue, 16 Nov 2010, 11:23:47 EST by Mr Brendan Zietsch on behalf of School of Psychology