Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), the primary ingredient in marijuana, exerts its effects across several neurological and biological systems that interact with the endocrine system. Thus, differential effects of Δ9-THC are likely to exist based on sex and hormone levels.
We reviewed the existing literature to determine sex-based effects of Δ9-THC on neural structure and functioning.
The literature demonstrates differences in male and female marijuana users on brain structure, reward processing, attention, motor coordination, and sensitivity to withdrawal. However, inconsistencies exist in the literature regarding how marijuana affects men and women differentially, and more work is needed to understand these mechanisms. While extant literature remains inconclusive, differentiation between male and female marijuana users is likely due to neurological sexual dimorphism and differential social factors at play during development and adulthood.
Sex has important implications for marijuana use and the development of cannabis use disorders and should be considered in the development of prevention and treatment strategies.