We’ve all become accustomed to the familiar stereotype of the lazy stoner. Lacking ambition and lounging around with no goals in life. Marijuana users are often the butt of jokes about memory recall and have a supposed inability to keep themselves clean or stand up straight. I used to kind of laugh it off, but now that I’m part of supposed “civilized society” and have a “real job” it just makes me angry. At a very normal and boring suburban dinner party the subject of marijuana came up. Nobody there had any clue that I smoke multiple times a day and they went on and on about how marijuana made them lazy. Then someone joked that marijuana users obviously don’t cause crime because all they do all day is sit around and watch the clouds go by, while dangerous addicts who use meth are out robbing and stealing. And I really wanted to say something. Sure, I get it, marijuana users are pretty unlikely to rob your car stereo to feed their supposed habit, and it’s basically impossible to get into a fight randomly while stoned, but at the same time in 2015 I can’t believe how misconstrued so many people’s view is of the herb. There’s a lot more to smoking weed than just sitting on your couch staring at the clouds go by outside while listening to Bob Marley.
Often it is said that marijuana reduces one’s ambition and motivation, and as someone interested in science I looked into it. After all, it’s good to be educated on the issue. I’m not someone who can’t be swayed by conclusive evidence. But when it comes to measuring something like “motivation” it just becomes kind of a bullshit. Sure, we can go by what some respondents in a test say. But what does it mean to be motivated to do something. For me, I smoke small amounts of marijuana ( I admit that high doses definitely can couch lock someone ) before I work. It effects me very similarly to coffee. Now some could say I’m an anomaly. But the problem is that all my friends who smoke weed also don’t fit this lazy stereotype either. So it got me to thinking. Isn’t the old adage that “You are the company that you keep” something which could ring true when it concerns tests relating to marijuana and motivation? And not to disparage those who engage in scientific studies for money, but I’m guessing the crew of people that you get who are both willing to admit their marijuana use, as well as be someone who has the time to engage in a study aren’t exactly the types of marijuana users who are the business owners, professors, soccer moms, and managers.
But I persevered. And I found this study from Psychology Today In the study they found that long term marijuana users had lower levels of dopamine. And dopamine is associated with drive and ambition. But what are the best ways to increase dopamine? Through aerobic exercise and by setting goals and achieving them! Yes, that’s right, you can basically completely counteract lower dopamine levels by just jogging a few times a week or by making a checklist and successfully achieving it! On top of that, tests have shown that any detrimental effects from chronic marijuana use aren’t permanent, but are easily reversed within as little as not using the substance for one month. Studies which look into the effects of occasional smokers are clear. They rate exactly at the same level as those who never used the drug.
Another study showed that marijuana users were more likely to skip class. Well, to that I’d say we’re in a chicken and egg type of situation and one which has an obvious answer. A kid is not skipping school because he’s smoking weed, a kid who is skipping school might want to smoke weed because it’s fun. The US can be such a black and white society which wants these concise and clear answers, but life isn’t that cut and dry. The reasons why kids skip school are numerous, and I would venture to say that their home life would probably be at the top of the list.
Then there’s the issue of dosage which I think is one which needs much more attention. I think one of the very real things to confront regarding marijuana use is that it is impossible to OD on the herb. Unlike alcohol, one is able to take bongbowl after bongbowl, and the effects of this can absolutely be one which makes people more tired. It’s no mystery that certain strains and indicas are often prescribed to treat insomnia. So the possibility that some would smoke and then get tired are very real. This has a lot to do with finding the right strain ( For me it was OG Kush and Northern Lights ) which is more of a motivational strain. The other elephant in the room is dosage, and this is something which I see all too often ignored. People often believe that they need far more than is necessary to get high. It is often assumed that taking a giant monster bong hit is how one is supposed to smoke marijuana. But now that we live in a time where you can vape half a hit of a concentrate, or smoke a pinch hitter I can tell you that the effects of smoking small amounts of marijuana vary greatly compared to when too much is smoked. As I said before, marijuana for me is akin to coffee. It gets me up and going and ready to take on the world. I literally get jittery and annoyed if I am lying on a couch and watching cartoons while stoned. I don’t want to waste my high by doing nothing, I want to get shit done, and I’ve always got way too many things to do.
The last thing to consider is addiction. And how we think about it as it pertains to happiness and motivation. We know that people can get psychologically addicted to things like gambling or pornography. Based solely off how our brains react while engaging in these activities. The same can be true for marijuana. Yes, people can be psychologically addicted to it. But, when we see someone who is abusing pornography, or gambling, or marijuana there are almost always larger problems at play here. The solution isn’t to make dice and playing cards illegal. The solution is to get the person help who feels who can only be happy when he is gambling. The same goes for chronic marijuana users who are using the substance to the point where it is negatively effecting their daily lives. Yes, in these cases the chronic use is a problem, as is evidenced by the fact that their finances, family life, and personal health are all suffering. But one doesn’t fill that hole by merely removing a substance. To say that it is directly related actually does a disservice to those suffering from depression or other ailments. Do some gambling addicts and porn addicts need complete abstinence? Sure. Of course. But many others learn how to use these types of things responsibly. They don’t allow it to take over their lives. The same goes for responsible marijuana use. Just as one can go out and have a few drinks with friends, we know that others will go out, have a few drinks with friends and then drink a fifth of vodka when they get home. So if you are smoking so much marijuana that it is effecting your life in a negative way, and you’re having problems with concentration then for the love of god cut back your use. I do not want to be someone who says that all marijuana use is harmless. It can be a bad crutch for some people who have other underlying issues that need to be addressed, and for these people they can abuse the substance. Treat weed the way you do porn, gambling, or alcohol. Everything in moderation.