The past decade has witnessed a number of societal and political changes that have raised critical questions about the long-term impact of marijuana (Cannabis sativa) that are especially important given the prevalence of its abuse and that potential long-term effects still largely lack scientific data. Disturbances of the epigenome have generally been hypothesized as the molecular machinery underlying the persistent, often tissue-specific transcriptional and behavioral effects of cannabinoids that have been observed within one's lifetime and even into the subsequent generation. Here, we provide an overview of the current published scientific literature that has examined epigenetic effects of cannabinoids. Though mechanistic insights about the epigenome remain sparse, accumulating data in humans and animal models have begun to reveal aberrant epigenetic modifications in brain and the periphery linked to cannabis exposure. Expansion of such knowledge and causal molecular relationships could help provide novel targets for future therapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586-594
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2016


  • Addiction
  • CB receptor
  • Cannabinoids
  • DNA methylation
  • Epigenetics
  • Neurodevelopment


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