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Addict Biol. 2008 Jun;13(2):188-95. doi: 10.1111/j.1369-1600.2007.00095.x. Epub 2008 Feb 14.

Cannabis reinforcement and dependence: role of the cannabinoid CB1 receptor.

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  • 1Division on Substance Abuse, New York State Psychiatric Institute, Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Awareness of cannabis dependence as a clinically relevant issue has grown in recent years. Clinical and laboratory studies demonstrate that chronic marijuana smokers can experience withdrawal symptoms upon cessation of marijuana smoking and have difficulty abstaining from marijuana use. This paper will review data implicating the cannabinoid CB1 receptor in regulating the behavioral effects of Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannobinol (THC), the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, across a range of species. The behavioral effects that will be discussed include those that directly contribute to the maintenance of chronic marijuana smoking, such as reward, subjective effects, and the positive and negative reinforcing effects of marijuana, THC and synthetic cannabinoids. The role of the CB1 receptor in the development of marijuana dependence and expression of withdrawal will also be discussed. Lastly, treatment options that may alleviate withdrawal symptoms and promote marijuana abstinence will be considered.

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