Cannabis can elicit an acute psychotic reaction, and its long-term use is a risk factor for schizophrenia. The main active psychoactive ingredient ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) activates cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors, which are localized to the terminals of glutamate and GABA neurons in the brain. The endogenous cannabinoids are involved in information processing and plasticity at synapses in the hippocampus, basal ganglia, and cerebral cortex. Exogenously applied CB1 receptor agonists disrupt neuronal dynamics and synaptic plasticity, resulting in cognitive deficits and impairment of the highest psychological functions. Various other pro-psychotic drugs, such as ketamine and methamphetamine, exert their effects in the same microdomain of synaptic spines as Δ9-THC. Additionally, many of the most robust findings in psychiatric genetics include components that localize to dendritic spines and have important roles in information processing and plasticity.
- Dendritic spine