Date of Award

Spring 6-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Forensic Science



First Advisor or Mentor

Shu-Yuan Cheng

Second Reader

Donald Hoffman

Third Advisor

Juan Zhen


Understanding the mechanism behind drugs of abuse is one of the key elements to understanding why addiction is so prevalent in society. The goal of this research was to determine the effect that a popular cannabinoid, Δ -9-tetrahydrocannabinol has on the regulation of dopamine neurotransmitter in the synapses. It was hypothesized that the addictive high users experience from using Δ-9-THC had a direct effect on lowering the dopamine transporter protein on cell surface causing a buildup of dopamine in the synapse. The results of the study show that the higher concentration of Δ-9-THC that the cells were exposed to caused a fewer amount of dopamine transporter protein to be present on the cell surface. This decreased cell surface dopamine transporter could result in less dopamine re-uptake from the synapses and a prolonged dopamine existence in the synapses.


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