Yasmin Hurd of the Addiction Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai will present a lecture entitled: Cannabis and the developing brain, what we need to know.
Abstract: We are in a transformative time. The dramatic shift of the cannabis sociopolitical landscape has led to the decriminalization, medicalization, and legalization of cannabis use. While these steps have helped to reverse biased criminalization of cannabis use, especially against minoritized groups, critical health issues remain to be answered. As the perception of cannabis’ risk has diminished in society, there has been a greater urgency for cannabis research regarding health. One significant health implication relates particularly to vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and teens given concerns about the potential for cannabis to impact neurodevelopmental processes linked to psychopathology risk. Our research, along with a growing number of investigators worldwide, has long provided evidence that prenatal and adolescent exposure to δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major psychoactive component of cannabis, has lasting effects into adulthood on behavior—relevant to reward, motivation, negative emotional state and decision-making—and corresponding molecular disturbances in the brain. Are such alterations deterministic or sensitive to other factors such as environment? Are the studies in animals relevant to the human condition? Leveraging preclinical animal models and human studies, the talk will address questions regarding specific biological mechanisms that could underlie protracted effects of cannabis/THC seemingly throughout life and individual factors potentially related to pathology risk.