Does Marijuana Make You Lazy?

Anthony Pellegrino
February 25, 2021

The information is provided for informational purposes only and does not relieve readers of their obligation to obtain qualified medical, legal or other professional advice.

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It is a charge that we're all familiar with. That smoking marijuana will turn you into a lazy procrastinator. This laziness is a common stereotype applied to stoners, but is there any truth to it? Is it rooted in scientific fact, anecdotal evidence, or is it merely an antiquated urban legend? Let's take a look at the truth and lies behind this question. Does marijuana make you lazy? 

Does marijuana make you lazy?


What Does the Science Say About Marijuana and Laziness?

So far, the scientific data is somewhat inconclusive. Some studies suggest it may increase feelings of laziness while others do not. For example, a study on amotivational syndrome published in Psychopharmacology states that "cannabis acutely induced a transient amotivational state." This means that THC was found to have a temporary negative effect on motivation. Other researchers have found similar results, specifically in terms of smoking weed and dopamine in the brain. 

Some studies have found that THC has a temporary negative effect on motivation.


However, other research has suggested otherwise. A University of Colorado study, published in the medical journal Frontiers in Public Health, was focused on cannabis use in the context of physical exercise. Researchers found that most of their subjects felt increased motivation and enjoyed working out more after smoking cannabis -- so much so that many reported an increase in overall exercise and along with improved recovery times. In fact, some cannabis patients are using the herb to treat depression.


What is Amotivational Syndrome, Does Smoking Cannabis Cause It? 

If you were to read a few research papers on this topic, you're bound to see mention of a specific ailment -- "amotivational syndrome." Amotivational syndrome is an ongoing mental disorder defined by cognitive and emotional states like detachment, reduced emotions, memory and attention loss, passivity, increased apathy, and an overall loss of motivation. The syndrome is connected to low dopamine production in the brain, the feel-good neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of reward, happiness, and satisfaction. 

Amotivational syndrome has been connected to low dopamine levels. 


In recent years, there have been investigations regarding marijuana and amotivational syndrome, especially among children. Nevertheless, like the previously mentioned studies, there's no consensus on whether cannabis causes amotivational syndrome or whether marijuana-induced amotivational syndrome even exists. The symptoms associated with the syndrome are also associated with other common ailments such as depression. A fact frequently mentioned in the studies surrounding cannabis and amotivational syndrome. 


Why the Mixed Messages?

There are a few reasons for the uncertainty regarding this topic. First and foremost, marijuana is still a Schedule 1 substance, which means that it has no recognized medical use by the DEA and the Federal Government. As such, the government provides no funding for medical research into marijuana. This is the primary reason that there is currently a lack of scientific inquiry into cannabis. 

The field of cannabis research is overrun with mixed messages about amotivational syndrome.


Secondly, cannabis products can vary pretty wildly. The THC content can be dramatically different depending on the particular product and the strain. And some marijuana products contain no THC whatsoever, only CBD. This is also why some users find it helpful to experiment with varying THC percentages and THC to CBD ratios. You may find that some make you feel lazier than others. This difference in strains and products makes it difficult to study cannabis accurately, however. Simply put, with more differences come more things to investigate.

The effects of marijuana can be generalized, but as any long-time smoker will tell you, there can be quite a variation in effects between different strains. But this also means that it should come as no surprise that there is not a consensus on whether it makes you lazy or not! 

 

So Then, Should I Worry About Marijuana Making Me Lazy?

Everyone is different and we all have unique body chemistries. This makes it impossible to predict whether any of us may be prone to cannabis-induced laziness or couch-lock.

If you're thinking about using marijuana in some form but are worried about becoming lazy following its use, you can try experimenting with different dosages at first. Go with smaller dosages to start and note the results. If you find yourself becoming lazy or couch-locked after a certain dose, you can cut back. Be sure to experiment with different strains, as well, to see the range of effects that are possible. Some may feel more uplifting or energetic, like sativas, while others are relaxing or prone to couch lock. We maintain that you must experiment with different strains for yourself, as everybody's body is different. You may find the results surprising. A specific indica, for example, could be energizing while some sativas put you to sleep. 

And of course, if you have any medical concerns about amotivational syndrome or feelings of dependency, it's important to talk to your doctor

Ultimately, if you're worried about cannabis-induced laziness, limiting your consumption until you become more familiar with its effects on your body and mind is a good idea. Many people find it helpful to take notes regarding energy and motivation following the use of certain strains or methods of consumption. Taking notes can help to record objective markers that can help with a more unbiased assessment of mood and motivation. These notes can also be shared with doctors or counselors who are monitoring your treatment. 

On the other hand, it's an interesting notion: that smoking marijuana would make us lazy. There is growing consensus that cannabis's effect on our motivation, if any at all, is probably dependent on our personal habits and self-efficacy. While it would indeed be lazy to sit on the couch and smoke weed all day, is it really the weed doing that, or is it our own self-discipline and inner sense of motivation? 

The effects of cannabis on motivation vary by person.

For many people, when they think about smoking weed, they do think about being lazy. They think about red-eyed stoners eating snacks and watching TV all day. And while that is, in fact, lazy, it is not necessarily a done deal when it comes to cannabis consumption. The effects of THC are calming and relaxing. You may find yourself becoming more lethargic or less willing to do high effort tasks, but that doesn't mean smoking weed has to make you lazy. Its effects can vary depending on the person. At the end of the day, there's only one real way to find out! 

Meanwhile, if you'd like to talk to an experienced and knowledgeable medical marijuana doctor about how marijuana may affect your mood or motivation, NuggMD has experienced and knowledgeable online medical marijuana doctors in California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Oklahoma, Missouri, New York, New Jersey and Virginia. No appointment is necessary.



Anthony Pellegrino
Anthony Pellegrino is a freelance journalist, writer, and content marketing strategist. He is currently studying to get his B.A. in philosophy at Fort Hays State University. He is a content creator for several marketing agencies, brands, and tech startups. His writing is focused on content marketing, technology, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, politics, career planning, and of course, cannabis. Academically, Anthony is focused on A.I., Consciousness, Social Sciences, and Philosophy.

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