It’s an age-old question, a riddle that has plagued stoners for centuries: Are you lazy and unmotivated because you smoke weed all the time, or do you smoke weed all the time because you are lazy and unmotivated?
According to a new report, “while the relationships between chronic cannabis use and motivation are almost always interpreted to indicate that cannabis use saps motivation, they may alternatively indicate that individuals with diminished motivation are more likely to use cannabis.”
The study, entitled “A Comprehensive Examination of the Links between Cannabis Use and Motivation,” was meant to examine how different aspects of motivation are affected by cannabis use and abuse. The secondary goal of the report was to examine how depression, personality traits, and the use of other substances play in how cannabis use affects motivation.
According to the researchers, “findings from the present study generally support small but significant links between various aspects of cannabis use/misuse and motivation.” They clarify, though, that in most of the cases, this was “driven by confounding variables,” such as depression, personality, and other substance use.
The researchers also mention prior studies that showed evidence that heavy cannabis use results in poorer academic outcomes, including one study that found that heavy cannabis users in college “miss more school, demonstrate lower productivity, procrastinate more, and spend less time studying,” as well as a study that showed they are less likely to earn a Bachelor’s degree than infrequent users and non-users.
The researchers do issue the caveat that “it is possible that poor academic outcomes drive cannabis use,” and not the other way around. (You hear that, Judge! The grades made me do it!)
The researchers also stated that the study produced results that indicated that depression accounted for the correlations between cannabis misuse and self-efficacy.
In the study, the researchers take aim at the lazy stoner stereotype right off the bat. In the introduction the paper singles out the stoner classic Pineapple Express, saying “for example, the IMDb storyline synopsis for the film Pineapple Express refers to the main characters as “lazy court-process clerk and stoner Dale Denton” and “equally lazy dealer Saul Silver” (Pineapple Express, n.d.). This is just one of many examples of the archetype of the unmotivated cannabis user that has been portrayed in popular culture.”
The results of the study were gathered by polling 1,267 undergraduate students who took a 45-minute online survey. Of the students, 874 had used marijuana, while 294 had never partaken. On average, the users reported using marijuana 8.95 times per month, and 16.1% said they used it daily. The average age of first use was 16.60 years, and the respondents had used marijuana for an average of 3.18 years.
The study found that at the end of the day, once differences in depression and alcohol use are factored in, cannabis use accounts for less than 8% of the variance in motivation.
If it’s any consolation, though, the researchers found that results “indicate that cannabis users score higher on fun-seeking relative to non-users.”
That makes it pretty clear then: It’s time to enroll in a party school.