Does Marijuana Make You Lazy?
Cannabis users are often shown as sitting on a couch, in a messy room, watching TV, and binge-eating pizza or chips and soda. Not as accomplished, driven, physically active, and healthy as individuals may be using doctor-supervised medical cannabis to help with symptom management.
It is not an accurate representation, as non-users have an equal chance of feeling or acting lazy. People thinking about using medical cannabis for the first time may naturally worry about the impact regular cannabis use can have on their lifestyle, personality, and career.
DocMJ has served over 500,000 patients with cannabis healthcare services since 2016. And our patient work implies that the stereotypes about cannabis consumption do not apply to everyone. Many people significantly improve their quality of life with doctor-supervised cannabis.
Temporary Demotivational Effects of Cannabis
Let’s start with the science behind the stereotype. If you use cannabis regularly for an extended period of time, will it transform you into someone with low motivation and prone to laziness?
One study published in Psychopharmacology, “Acute and chronic effects of cannabinoids on effort-related decision-making and reward learning: an evaluation of the cannabis ‘amotivational’ hypotheses,” suggests that motivation can be impacted when under the influence of cannabis.
You ingest cannabis, and depending on the strain you have consumed, you may start to feel relaxed. If you experience chronic pain or other debilitating symptoms, you may find that cannabis provides temporary relief. When you are feeling good, and stress or anxiety levels fall, you are likely to enjoy the period of relaxation with a Netflix and chill rather than organizing your closet.
But the demotivating effects of cannabis, according to this study and many others, are temporary. Once the psychoactive effects of cannabis wear off, you may feel normal and ready to tackle any tasks or priorities on your list.
How THC Can Impact Dopamine Levels
Understanding the long-term effects of THC will require more human health research. There is so much we still do not know about cannabinoids and their positive and potential negative long-term effects. However, some studies indicate that long-term consumption of THC can reduce dopamine production for some individuals. That is the hormone connected with the brain’s reward system.
Another study, “Deficits in striatal dopamine release in cannabis dependence,” reported that heavy cannabis users may experience problems with dopamine release in the brain. However, the study revealed that chronic cannabis users who began using cannabis in their adolescent years were most at risk of lower dopamine release—particularly people with other psychopathology markers or specific mental health disorders, including cannabis use disorder.
This is why cannabis is restricted to adults over eighteen (18) years for doctor-supervised use. In comparison, recreational users must be twenty-one (21) and older to purchase cannabis to protect adolescents from experiencing harmful consequences.
Debunking the Lazy Stoner Stereotype
You may not believe that some of the most distinguished business leaders, creative artists, and celebrities have no problem being successful and smoking weed. But it’s true. Many adult cannabis users are anything but the lazy stoner stereotype.
Many have found ways to incorporate the wellness benefits to address symptoms of anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. They do not feel lazier, but experience increased motivation when disruptive symptoms are well managed with medical cannabis.
Here are some ways that different strains of cannabis can support your wellness goals:
Cannabis Can Help Remove the Barriers to Exercise
A recent scientific study by the University of Colorado (UC) tested 600 participants to see whether cannabis helped them overcome the barriers to exercise before, during, and after workouts. Before the study, 81.7 percent of participants supported using cannabis when exercising.
The result after participants completed questionnaires? Published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, the study found a majority enjoyed working out more than before, to the point they exercised more and saw improved recovery afterward.
Nearly 500 participants concluded it is beneficial to use cannabis between one hour before and four hours after exercise. Compared with consumers who did not use cannabis while exercising, the study group found themselves working out longer by an average of 45 minutes of aerobic exercise and 30 minutes of anaerobic exercise!
In addition, 70% agree that “cannabis increases enjoyment of exercise,” 78 percent that it “enhances recovery from exercise,” and 50 percent that it “increases motivation.” Further evidence is the number of professional athletic associations working to remove cannabis as a banned substance.
Marijuana Supports Healthy Weight Management
Another study published in a March 2019 issue of the International Journal of Epidemiology compared the body mass index of participants who used cannabis to those who did not. Researchers at Michigan State University studied the responses from 33,000 U.S. citizens aged 18 and up over four years.
They pulled from a nationally represented, cross-sectional sample in categories of those who had discontinued the use of cannabis, those who were new to using it, and those who had never used it. They found that marijuana users gained less weight over time and have said, “cannabis may be a better option for weight loss than surgery or pharmaceuticals.”
Marijuana Use by U.S. Presidents and Olympic Athletes
George Washington, the father of the United States, grew cannabis with a preference for plants containing higher THC levels. President John F. Kennedy used marijuana to remedy excruciating back pain during his presidency.
Michael Phelps, winner of more gold medals than anyone in Olympic history, smoked marijuana before and after each game. Yet no one would describe these famous celebrities as lazy. While some research suggests marijuana can contribute to laziness, it may be caused instead by an inherent lack of motivation as a personality trait.
Comparing Sativa and Indica Strains: Why It Matters
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. Whether you smoke cannabis or use another intake method, the psychoactive results are the same for a temporary period of time.
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. Still, generally speaking, a Sativa-dominant strain is best suited for those who wish to combine their use of marijuana with activities that require energy, focus, concentration, or social activities. At the same time, Indica-dominant medical marijuana strains can help with pain, deep relaxation, and sedation.
As for a direct link to a motivational syndrome, the current medical research does not suggest there is one. If you are motivated, you are likely to remain that way whether you use cannabis or not. A Sativa strain may boost energy and a “get it done” vibe for people with low motivation.
With over 25 years of specialty training in Internal Medicine, as well as fellowship training in Functional and Sexual medicine, Dr. Maginso added Plant Medicine (Medical Marijuana) to her niche practice as of 2017. She is licensed in the State of Florida and attended the University of the East (UERM) in Quezon City, Philippines as well as the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, NJ.
She joined DocMJ in 2019 to align with a known group of compassionate physicians that empower their patients to be better versions of themselves. Her favorite hashtag is #powerpassionperformance, using the combination of optimized bioidentical hormones, medical marijuana, plasma therapies, and sexual wellness.
She is an author, speaker and community advocate for Medical Marijuana, Sexual Health, and the empowerment of mature women.