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A study from the University of Texas-Dallas wants to understand the difference in cannabis cravings between men and women.
The cannabis community might not be as male-dominated as you think. It’s no secret that women use weed now more than ever.
In 2018, a survey conducted by the California-based online marketplace Eaze showed that women made up 38% of the entire user base, twice as much as the year before. It’s a trend that has only been increasing, and the industry has noticed. Today, the cannabis market is full of products that are women-centric or women-targeted: CBD bath bombs or high-end skincare are just a few examples.
This increase in women’s buying intent got the attention of the University of Texas-Dallas’ Center of Brain Health, which decided to launch a study to conclude if they indeed craved cannabis more than their male counterparts. The study involved 58 men and 54 women, all of whom reported having consumed cannabis at least 5,000 times.
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Their research determined that cannabis affects men and women in the same way on a neuronal level. The investigators drew this conclusion after they conducted fMRI scans on all participants while showing them three objects:
The researchers saw no difference in brain activity between any of the elements. But, on a more subjective level or “behavioral level,” as the researchers say, women did appear to have a higher fondness of consuming it compared to men.
They gave the participants a cannabis object to hold, then asked them to rate their urge to use cannabis from 1 to 10, with the latter being the most intense. Surprisingly, the results presented higher cravings in women than in men: 5.5 vs. 4.6, respectively.
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The researchers pointed to hormones as the most probable cause of this difference. When women are going through the follicular phase of their menstrual cycle, they produce high levels of estrogen, an ovarian hormone linked to increased cravings.
This isn’t the first time studies have related male and female hormones to cannabis. In 2018, an investigation about sex hormones’ roles in cannabinoid sensitivity done at the University of Cagliari, in Italy, revealed that men are more prone to try cannabis at a young age. Male hormones, which are highly produced during adolescence, stimulate men to try new things that are perceived as “risky.”
Regardless of hormones or behaviors, the reality is that cannabis is still an emerging industry. And with time and legalization, it will become accessible to millions of new users of all genders, ages, backgrounds, and nationalities. Cannabis knows no criteria. We welcome all.
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