Even as the body of evidence of cannabis’ potential as a potent medical precursor grows (especially with the development of CBD-rich strains), smoking it is not without long-term side effects. And we’re not just talking about munchie-induced weight gain either. A number of recently published studies suggest habitually getting high not only kills your motivation, it might even alter your brain chemistry. Specifically, the part that makes you want to get off the couch.
For all of its benefits, the mounting evidence suggests that THC’s effects on your dopamine levels might not just make you lazy. It could cause some more serious medical issues as well. So what exactly is going on here?
The question of whether long-term cannabis use makes people demotivated, even when they’re not high, is a more difficult one to answer. We cannot carry out randomised controlled trials in which some people are given cannabis for ten years while another group receive placebo for ten years. That would, of course, be unethical. Therefore, we have to rely on observational studies, where we look at associations between natural cannabis consumption and motivation levels. Some previous research has failed to find a link between cannabis use and altered motivation, although in one study earlier cannabis consumption predicted later anhedonia (difficulty experiencing pleasure).
In our observational study (that is, one that does not have an experimental manipulation), we compared 20 people who were addicted to cannabis against a control group of 20 people who were not addicted to cannabis. The control group used other drugs, including MDMA and cocaine, a similar amount to the cannabis group. These participants completed the same motivation task as in the previous study after they had been clean of all drugs (apart from tobacco and caffeine) for at least 12 hours. We found no difference between the groups in their willingness to work for money. This suggests that long-term cannabis use may not reduce motivation after 12 hours of abstinence from the drug.
However, there are some important limitations with this study. Firstly, the sample sizes were small. Secondly, the study was cross-sectional, so we only investigated the participants at one point in time. An improved study would have used a longitudinal design, in which people’s motivation and cannabis use are measured at different time points as they grow up. This would have allowed for a better understanding of how cannabis consumption affects future motivation. Longitudinal research is needed to draw stronger conclusions.
What do our results mean to the average cannabis user? After years of being told that getting high makes you lazier, we’ve provided some of the first solid evidence that it’s true. Importantly though, it doesn’t eradicate your motivation altogether – it makes you slightly, yet significantly, more apathetic. On the bright side, your long-term cannabis use may not erode your drive like some people claim, so long as you can put your joint down for a while.
Вoes smoking weed make you lazy?
Let’s face it. There exists a stereotype about people who smoke marijuana. They’re potato chip-eating couch dwellers who would rather veg out than create art, work hard, or exercise. But try telling that to Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, or President Obama! Many studies have shown the opposite is true, including one recently published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health that debunks the “stoner” myth by proving marijuana increases the motivation to exercise !
The weed’s not making you lazy, you just want to be lazy.
If the weed is top shelf because it won a cannabis cup award, and that award is “Best Indica” then I believe you, it did knock you on your ass. That is what it does. Indica is generally recommended for pain management and is recommended for insomnia. Why? It is a more nighttime weed. In a future, and much longer, blog post, I will be outlining some new research that discusses the various terpenes, and how they are potentially responsible for some of these effects, as well as flavors, but for now, I will leave it to a much simpler explanation. There are two main “types” of weed, and Indica is like “nighttime.”
The weed, Indica or otherwise, is not making you lazy.
You are making a conscious choice to be lazy, and you happen to be smoking weed while you do it.
Indica, or “in da couch” may be recommended for sleep aid and pain relief, and yes, even the most veteran stoner has been locked into place and slept for hours from a good strong Indica, but, none of us were made lazy from the Indica. The Indica merely did its job.
If you had plans and you ingested the Indica, you did not do yours.
The simple truth is twofold. Indica can make you a bit more sedentary then you had planned, but it isn’t going to make you a fundamentally lazy person. It isn’t going to stop you from taking care of your obligations, it isn’t going to stop you from being a productive member of society. (I love that song too, it’s even on a Spotify playlist, but sorry Afroman, the weed isn’t to blame for your room, your girl, your bills, your anything. Weed is awesome.)
And two. While yes, Indica CAN make you a bit more stationary, why would you smoke it if you knew you had to do something? That is, you, setting yourself up to fail, and then blaming weed.
Well, no, thank you, again, weed did it’s job, you failed to do your job. If you know that the only weed you have makes you too drowsy to function, don’t spark up.
If you only ever smoke Indica? Maybe try Sativa. I smoke it, and then I write, I work out, I clean, I work, I drive my sober friends crazy with how productive I am.
The thing is, for me, weed helps me be productive, because it is medicine, and for others, it is too.
Pain pills also make people drowsy, but we are hardly maintaining draconian bans on those, are we?
A medication can have side effects, and those side effects can vary from patient to patient. Those side effects can also be, ahem, misdiagnosed when you are living in a state where marijuana is not legally recreationally or medically, leading to you getting your medicine from less…orthodox, suppliers. (Dealers can’t always know if the weed is actually Indica/Sativa/etc most of the time, making medicating in illegal states tricky) These illegalities are not helped with people going around claiming “all weed makes them too lazy to function”.
Sativas and Indicas: Why Strains Matter
Medical marijuana doctors recommend their patients use strains of Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, or a hybrid of each marijuana plant depending on the condition being treated. There are some differences to these two types of marijuana. Sativa plants are usually tall and skinny, while Indica plants are short and stocky. Also, Sativas act as an “upper” in terms of energy and mood, while Indicas help with sleep and relaxation . However, due to underground crossbreeding, almost all strains are a hybrid form of the two types. As such, marijuana strains are better described as being Indica-Dominant or Sativa-Dominant.
Choosing the right strain is a highly important factor to treatment, because while some strains may induce the ability to sit on the couch and relax, others provide the right motivation and energy for the task at hand. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to choosing the right strain. What works well for one person might be the opposite for another, but generally speaking, a Sativa-Dominant strain is best suited for those who wish to combine their use of marijuana with exercise.