Multi-ancestry genome-wide association study of cannabis use disorder yields insight into disease biology and public health implications

Nat Genet. 2023 Dec;55(12):2094-2103. doi: 10.1038/s41588-023-01563-z. Epub 2023 Nov 20.


As recreational use of cannabis is being decriminalized in many places and medical use widely sanctioned, there are growing concerns about increases in cannabis use disorder (CanUD), which is associated with numerous medical comorbidities. Here we performed a genome-wide association study of CanUD in the Million Veteran Program (MVP), followed by meta-analysis in 1,054,365 individuals (ncases = 64,314) from four broad ancestries designated by the reference panel used for assignment (European n = 886,025, African n = 123,208, admixed American n = 38,289 and East Asian n = 6,843). Population-specific methods were applied to calculate single nucleotide polymorphism-based heritability within each ancestry. Statistically significant single nucleotide polymorphism-based heritability for CanUD was observed in all but the smallest population (East Asian). We discovered genome-wide significant loci unique to each ancestry: 22 in European, 2 each in African and East Asian, and 1 in admixed American ancestries. A genetically informed causal relationship analysis indicated a possible effect of genetic liability for CanUD on lung cancer risk, suggesting potential unanticipated future medical and psychiatric public health consequences that require further study to disentangle from other known risk factors such as cigarette smoking.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome-Wide Association Study*
  • Humans
  • Marijuana Abuse* / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Public Health
  • Racial Groups
  • Veterans