Thursday, June 20, 2024

Science: Cannabis Does Not Make You Lazy After All

This goes against the theory that cannabis use reduces dopamine production resulting in lower motivation and, ultimately, inability to achieve life goals. 

“Marijuana will ruin your motivation. It will make you lazy.” Or so we were told. It’s an old stereotype drummed into the public mindset through multi-million dollar ad campaigns. We were taught that pot not only fries your brain like an egg, but strips away any personal motivation, leaving you living with your parents well into adulthood. 

Like any other effective propaganda, kernels of truth help obscure the lie. We do know that cannabis engages the CB1 receptors in a way that promotes the release of dopamine, the pleasure chemical naturally produces. So, it is no surprise that someone who uses cannabis would enjoy it and want to do it again. But does this mean that during the process our personal motivation to accomplish short and long-term goals is inhibited? It;s a good question and one that all cannabis enthusiasts should want to know the real answer to. 

Scientists at Florida International University are doing what good researchers do. They’re challenging assumptions and seeking facts concerning this very topic, publishing a study following the motivation levels of adolescents who are regular cannabis users. Even their hypothesis, published in the journal Substance Use & Misuse, followed the oft-held belief that cannabis zaps personal motivation, with frequency and increased amounts having a bigger detrimental effect.

RELATED: One Joint Of Cannabis Makes You Lazy, But Only In The Short Term

But that is not what they found. The motivation of 79 teens aged 14-18 were evaluated using standardized self-reporting tools known as the Apathy Evaluation Scale and Motivation and Engagement Scale. In fact, they concluded that “no significant differences were observed between regular and light users on any motivation index.” Their findings did not support any link between motivation and cannabis use in the adolescents they observed. 

Science: Cannabis Does Not Make You Lazy After All
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

This goes against a theory, developed in 1972, that proposed that cannabis use reduces dopamine production resulting in lower motivation and, ultimately, inability to achieve life goals. Twenty years later, sectors of the scientific community have challenged this assumption and instead point to the possibility of depression being the real culprit, not cannabis.

RELATED: Study Shows How Marijuana Can Motivate You To Exercise

Not all marijuana use is the same. The amount consumed is a critical consideration. Also, as cannabis users are aware, different strains have different effects based on THC:CBD balance and terpene profile. But just because it is possible to smoke yourself into a couch-lock situation, it doesn’t mean it zaps your long-term motivation.

As the G.I. Joe cartoons reminded us in the 80s, “knowing is half the battle.” In this case, some insight into real research can help us identify old-school propaganda from fact-based info.

So, enjoy your cannabis in moderation. When those old commercials pop up, enjoy them for what they are: an attempt to scare and dissuade you. Science has your back on this one


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