When the media depicts a cannabis consumer, it is more likely to show the person on the couch eating potato chips than creating art, exercising or working hard. The stigmatizing myth behind this characterization is that “stoners” are lazy. No one would describe people like Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, President Obama and Oprah Winfrey as lazy, but the prohibitionists would likely argue that these current/past stoners are outliers. A team of three clinical researchers (including Dr. Mitch Earleywine) decided to find out.
In 2006, the researchers published “Cannabis, motivation and life satisfaction in an internet sample” in the clinical journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy. Setting up the premise, the authors wrote, “Although little evidence supports cannabis-induced amotivational syndrome, sources continue to assert that the drug saps motivation, which may guide current prohibitions. Few studies report low motivation in chronic users; another reveals that they have higher subjective wellbeing.”
The study surveyed 1,300 individuals, including 243 who consume cannabis daily and 244 who fully abstain. Nearly 31 percent of the cannabis consumers cited medical intent in treating conditions like chronic pain and nausea, issues that could negatively affect motivation levels. Directly comparing the chronic and non-users, the study still found that motivation levels were the same.
The researchers concluded, “In this study, participants who used cannabis seven days a week demonstrated no difference from non-cannabis users on indices of motivation. These findings refute hypothesized associations between heavy cannabis use and low motivation. Means and median comparisons, data transformations, and robust comparisons of central locations each revealed no statistically significant differences among motivation scores despite improvements in power.”
These findings beg the question: Why were the prohibitionists so lazy as to create a myth and stereotype without doing the research to see whether or not it was true?
Photo credit: Aranxa Esteve.