Fact or Myth: Can Marijuana Make You Lazy?

A Recent Study Suggests this is FACT.

As of June 2016, medicinal and recreational marijuana use is legal in 25 U.S. states, along with Washington D.C. With the legalization of marijuana comes the necessity of gaining a better understanding of how the drug can affect physical and mental processes. Here’s what we know about marijuana side effects thus far.

Marijuana can:

  • Increase your appetite
  • Instill a feeling of euphoria
  • Intensify sensory perception
  • Cause hallucinations and delusions
  • Trigger fear and anxiety

The link between marijuana and laziness is less solid. Previous research shows that marijuana activates cannabinoid receptors that influence decision-making as it relates to physical activity, but thus far research hasn’t explored whether using marijuana can make us cognitively lazy. New research sheds light on the connection.

Marijuana May De-motivate medical cannabis

Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada trained 29 male rats to complete a behavioral experiment. The rats could choose the easy task—to react to a light in 1 second and receive 2 sugar pellets as compensation—or the hard task—to complete the same task in 0.2 seconds and receive the higher reward of two sugar pellets.

Under normal conditions, the rats chose to complete the harder task and get the higher reward. Researchers then introduced the two primary compounds in marijuana: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

Under the influence of THC, the rats opted for the easier task for the lower reward, even though their ability to perform the task was not affected. In other words, the THC made them less cognitively motivated.

Lead study author Mason Silveira explains, “Perhaps unsurprisingly, we found that when we gave THC to these rats, they basically became cognitively lazy. What’s interesting, however, is that their ability to do the difficult challenge was unaffected by THC. The rats could still do the task—they just didn’t want to.”

Under the influence of CBD, they reacted as they did under normal conditions, choosing the difficult task and the greater reward.

Previous studies suggest that CBD may negate the effects of THC, and researchers were expecting the rats to choose the higher reward when given THC and CBD combined, but the actual results surprised them. It seemed that the THC effect was stronger, and rats chose the easier task and lower reward when given THC and CBD together.

How does this affect marijuana users on a broader scale? Researchers believe marijuana may affect one’s ability to perform at their best in life. “Although a chronic dosing experiment would be required to assess this association directly, we hypothesize that associations between THC and poorer life outcomes may be due to a drug-induced decrease in willingness to allocate cognitive effort, rather than impairments in fundamental cognitive abilities per se,” they add.