Lazy Stoner Studies Debunk the Myth | MedCard
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Lazy Stoner Studies Debunk the Myth

  • ‘Amotivational syndrome’ hypothesis suggests that regular cannabis use can cause users to become lazy and unmotivated. However, several recent studies have provided evidence to the contrary.
  • Some studies have even suggested that microdosing with cannabis might actually increase motivation and job performance.
  • It’s important to keep in mind that the results might be strain-dependent. While sativa strains might increase motivation, pure indica strains may have the opposite effect. 

Researchers are once again challenging the popular myth that people who smoke cannabis or use cannabis-infused medications struggle to maintain motivation. In fact, a recent study done by the American Psychological Association indicates that the opposite might actually be true.

In a recent study, a team of researchers at the University of Memphis assessed the motivation of 47 college-aged students (25 frequent cannabis consumers and 22 controls). Participants were asked to complete a sequence of behavioral tests called the Effort-Expenditure for Rewards Task that requires participants to make choices between tasks of differing degrees of difficulty and that offer various levels of rewards.

Investigators in the study reported that those subjects who most frequently consumed cannabis were also the most likely to select tasks that required more extensive effort. The report reads in part:

“The results provide preliminary evidence suggesting that college students who use cannabis are more likely to expend effort to obtain a reward, even after controlling for the magnitude of the reward and the probability of reward receipt. Thus, these results do not support the ‘amotivational syndrome’ hypothesis.”

However, the researchers and authors of the Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology Journal did emphasize that future research with a larger sample will be required to evaluate possible associations between cannabis use and real-world effects over time.

Man Flying High

Other studies on cannabis and motivation

This recent study isn’t the only one to question the stereotype of the lazy stoner. 

Another study completed in 2019 by CU Boulder and published in Frontiers in Public Health found that 80% of cannabis users enjoy incorporating marijuana while working out, with 70% saying it increases enjoyment, 78% saying it boosts recovery, and 52% saying it motivates them. 

A different study conducted in 2020 published in the American Journal of Health Behavior looked at Americans ages 60+ and found that cannabis consumers tended to do more formal exercise and engage in more physical activities than non-consumers during the course of a four-month trial.

Lastly, in October of 2021, a study published by the San Francisco-based cannabis delivery platform Eaze found an increasing overlap between cannabis use and off-the-couch activities, including work, fitness, and even intimacy. According to Eaze’s study, 43% of users said they microdose cannabis before clocking into their jobs, and 37% said they pair cannabis with their workouts, countering the inaccurate and outdated image of couch-locked and unmotivated stoners.

Individual results are likely to be strain-dependent

Using cannabis is a highly subjective experience. However, some strains are well known for sparking a jolt of motivation. Sativa-dominant strains can make nearly any activity more enjoyable by providing a happy head high rather than a strong body high. 

Many describe a sativa high as uplifting and invigorating. Blue Dream, Jack Herer, and Sour Diesel are a few well-known energizing strains for those who need an extra kick to focus, absorb information, and become the master of their day.

This being said, extensive breeding has produced strains that do not fit the common perception of indica vs. sativa traits. Most marijuana dispensaries still categorize cannabis strains in terms of sativa, indica, and hybrid. However, with the wide variety of strains available today, this shortlist of categories isn’t as useful as it used to be. 

Indica strains are being developed that are high particular cannabinoids and terpenes that are often associated with sativas and vice versa. And it’s the combined effects of these active compounds that produces the effects. The combined effect of cannabinoids and terpenes is known as the entourage effect

Cannabis strains affect each person differently

Moreover, in addition to strain categories becoming less useful as breeders create a wider variety of strains, the fact of the matter is that different cannabinoids and terpenes will affect each individual differently. 

Also, the effects can be highly dosage dependent. While some cannabis strains might be energizing in small dosages they may cause some individuals to become lethargic in larger dosages. 

Most marijuana dispensaries today are staffed with knowledgable budtenders who are familiar with the effects various strains that they carry. If you’re looking for cannabis strains that will increase motivation, then rather than just blindly purchasing a sativa strain, explain to your budtender that you’re looking for a strain that is more energising and that will most likely not cause lethargy.

The bottom line is that some experimentation is going to be required to find the cannabis strains and dosages that won’t cause lethargy. To find the ideal strain for your needs, try a variety of strains and use them at various dosage levels. You might find that a strain that can increase motivation in small measures might actually sap your motivation when consumed at a higher dosage. 

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