NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Children of parents who have used marijuana may develop a drug addiction and compulsive behavior later in life, a study released Wednesday morning found.
Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai studied parental exposure to marijuana and the effects it has on the offspring in adulthood.
"Our study emphasizes that cannabis [marijuana] affects not just those exposed, but has adverse affects on future generations," said Yasmin Hurd, PhD, the study's senior author, and professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. "Finding increased vulnerability to drug addiction and compulsive behavior in generations not directly exposed is an important consideration for legislators considering legalizing marijuana."
Researchers studied the drug habits of rats. Those whose parents were exposed to marijuana as teens and then mated later in life worked harder to self-administer heroin than rats whose parents did not use marijuana, the study found.
"What this opens up are many questions regarding the epigenetic mechanisms that mediate cross-generational brain effects," said Dr. Hurd.
The findings open up potential new treatment interventions to try to reverse cross-generational drug use, researchers said.
Researchers are now looking into future studies to see if the drug use habit is transmitted to grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
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