Lazy Potheads: Does Cannabis Really Squash Motivation?

According to the dictionary, motivation is defined as “the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way” or “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.” A few of the synonyms commonly used in relation to “motivation” include: stimulation, incentive, force, spur, reason, inspiration, drive, ambition and, even though the dictionary doesn’t expressly list it, oomph.

To paraphrase: “motivation is what helps us get crap done.” Really, that’s cannabis and motivationall Merriam-Webster needed to say. It’s also something that – if you’re to believe the lazy reputation painted on potheads – marijuana kills.

But is this rep warranted? Does Mary Jane really make us sofa-bound, overly ambitious about our idleness but little else? Or, like so many things surrounding cannabis, is this rep blown out of proportion by others using their own “motivations”?

Why Strains Matter for Motivation

Not all pot elicits the same reaction: different strains cause you to feel different kinds of things. Indicas, for example, are conducive to relaxation, sleepiness, and wrinkling the couch cushions. Sativas, on the other hand, are conducive to socialization, energy, and getting up and getting going. So, while Indicas may earn their reputation as non-motivating, Sativas don’t. Of course, the hybrids – which many strains are – can go either way. Often, hybrids are dominated by Indicas or Sativas and the resulting high is representative of those proportions. Then again, that’s not true for everyone.

Strain play a major role in how your body react to what you consume

You may indeed find yourself locked in the living room upon smoking a potent Indica, yet a potent Sativa will have opposite results….at least usually.

Knowing this allows you to choose your strains wisely – if you’ve got stuff to do, stay away from anything that is Indica dominant and opt instead for either something lighter or something heavy on Sativa. A few of the strains worth trying (if you’re looking for motivation) include Sour Diesel, Jack Frost, Dream Queen, Acapulco Gold, Jamaican Pearl, Apollo 13 and Cinderella 99 (especially great when attending a ball and you’re motivated to be home before midnight).

Are CBD Strains Motivating?

There’s not a lot in terms of studies surrounding CBD and motivation. This is likely because CBD isn’t psychoactive and, in that aspect, it shouldn’t have a direct impact on motivation. But it can certainly have a non-direct impact.

CBD is widely used for pain relief, both physical and emotional pain. Pain of any type is counterproductive to motivation – whether you have a sore back or a sore soul, neither makes you want to jump out of bed, open the curtains, and sing a song for the morning sun.

Because CBD helps control pain and relieve anxiety and depression, it’s highly possible that it offers motivation in a secondary manner

Of note, CBD strains can also be dominated by indica or sativa – choosing the former may squash any secondary benefits CBD alone offers. This is why Harlequin, for instance, is a better choice than Stephen Hawking’s Kush.

Some people may opt instead for CBD patches, edibles, or tinctures.

Motivation in Long-Term Users

The above really speaks to acute motivation, how you feel in the hours that follow consumption. But what about the long-term effects? Does using marijuana regularly up the odds that you’ll find yourself lacking in ambition?

According to Psychology Today, there may be a link between motivation and long-term smoking (as well as smoking from a young age). This has to do with lower dopamine levels in the striatum, a part of the brain linked to ambition and motivation.

A study released in 2013 by the Imperial College London and the King’s College London found that those who smoked marijuana on a long-term basis produced less dopamine, a chemical directly linked to both motivation and reward.

Dopamine levels were lowest in long-term smokers and those who began smoking at younger than average ages

Dopamine is strongly linked to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain and it’s believed that cannabis may “hijack” these receptors and interfere with their natural ability to produce dopamine on their own.

This led researchers to conclude that cannabis, at least when consumed regularly, leaves users at risk for “Amotivational Syndrome” – yes, it has a name.

However, the study was by no means large (it only involved 38 people – 19 smokers and 19 non-smokers) and other similar studies found no link between the levels of dopamine and cannabis use, not even when comparing the brains of those who smoke regularly to the brains of those who have never smoked.

This “one study says this and the other says that” is not limited to cannabis, though it’s definitely seen in the study of the stash. The internet is filled with studies that contradict each other – one study says that wine causes cancer another says that it prevents it and so on.

Likely, the differing results have to do with people being different too. From genetic makeup to lifestyle, no two bodies are the same

Even experience plays a huge factor – a person exposed to germs has a much different immune system than someone who grew up in a proverbial bubble.

In regards to dopamine specifically, there are many things that impact levels and cannabis is only one of these potentialities. Other factors that weigh in include: level of exercise, other medications you may be taking, underlying medical conditions (specifically mental illnesses), what you eat (foods high in the amino-acid tyrosine are especially important to cannabis and motivationdopamine levels; these include: avocados, bananas, almonds, chicken, chocolate, beef, green tea, and coffee), whether you meditate, if you listen to music, and supplements you take. Even organization increases the levels of dopamine – when the brain notices that you’ve completed a task (no matter how big or how small) it rewards you with a feeling of accomplishment. In other words, if you’re a long-term or early onset marijuana user and you want to play on the safe side, get organized. Buy a wall calendar just to be sure.

Jenn Keeler

About the author: Jenn Keeler is a freelance writer and illustrator specializing in humorous lifestyle articles. She is one of the few people on earth actually using an English degree. Her heart belongs to the Denver Broncos and her husband. In that order.