What’s in a name? Plenty.
Observing that stoners are “lazy” is likely to get you labeled as a troglodyte by your sophisticated friends. However, speculating that cannabis use may impede decision-making and, therefore, support the “Transient Amotivational Syndrome” hypothesis, might just get you the funding for another post-doc that will inch your career further along the ever-receding path to tenure.
Whatever sounds you care to envelop the underlying concept in—“lazy,” “amotivated,” “de-incentivized,” “contra-laboraphilic”—cannabis may likely make users that way. At least temporarily.
That’s the finding of a paper published online this month by the journal Pschychoparmacology. This double-blind, controlled study gave its 17 subjects either the equivalent of about a join’s worth of cannabis vapor or an equal volume of bupkis, and then tested their willingness to do meaningless menial work for paltry pay. To wit: Participants could either press a spacebar 30 times in seven seconds for the British-money equivalent of about 70 cents, or they could press a spacebar 100 times in 21 seconds for about three bucks.
The results will not amaze: The people who were high were disinclined to press the spacebar faster than they had to, by a margin of 50 percent (un-high and willing) to 43 percent (high and unwilling).
Obviously, haters will find in these results confirmation of their suspicions about the demon weed. But for most of us, amotivation is the whole reason for recreational marijuana use. We reach for a joint (or a cocktail, for that matter) to unwind from a busy day, not to get a boost before the second shift. If it’s twitchy, nervous energy you want, well, let’s just say there are better ways to get it.
Here’s the biggest boost for our optimistic theory of the case: According to the reachers’ observations, the amotivational effect wears off in about 12 hours, even among the most committed devotees of the herb. So, smoke away and bask in the sweet balm of indolence and idleness! Just get to bed early, and tomorrow you’ll be as money-driven and sharp-elbowed as any striver in a neighboring cubical. At least you will be by lunch time.
You should read lead researcher Will Lawn’s own lucid and entertaining account of the study. It’s a good read—even if it was written by a scientist.