Human Study—Exposure and Abstinence among Male Cannabis Users & Impacts for Their Children

At a Glance

This research consists of two separate studies that will recruit human participants with the goal of generating samples (sperm and blood) for use by Component 3 to study epigenetic alteration of sperm due to cannabis use.

Main Study

  • We will recruit males between the ages of 18 and 40 years, both cannabis users and non-users. Sperm samples will be taken at the beginning of the study.
  • The user-group will abstain from cannabis use for 11 weeks, after which another sperm sample will be collected. (Why 11 weeks? It’s about the length of time it takes for new sperm to generate).
  • Component 3 researchers will then use these sperm samples to assess epigenetic alterations.

Exploratory Study

  • We will recruit and follow a cohort of expectant couples throughout the birth of their child and first year of life.
  • Half of the cohort will include a father who used cannabis within 3 weeks of conception, and half will not. Sperm and urine samples will be collected.
  • We will collect saliva samples at time of birth.
  • We will assess the cognitive and developmental profile of the children that are born.
  • Component 3 researchers will replicate the findings from the main study by assessing sperm epigenetic alterations among these fathers. The saliva will be used to assess whether specific alterations are transmitted from father to child.

Our Hypotheses

  • Cannabis use by men will result in epigenetic alterations in sperm. Greater levels of exposure will result in more or enhanced alterations
  • Short-term abstinence from cannabis use will reverse these epigenetic alterations.
  • Epigenetic alterations identified in the sperm of cannabis users may be passed on to their children.
  • These alterations found in saliva will be associated with abnormal social, emotional, and cognitive development in the first year of life.