Cannabis Consumers Aren’t Less Motivated, Study Finds

It’s a popular cliche that people who consume cannabis are lazy and lack motivation. But the results of a recent study beg to differ.  

General stereotypes surrounding cannabis consumers were investigated by scientists from University College London, the University of Cambridge, and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London in a new study.  

It was found that the cliché is inaccurate as “a relatively large group of adult and adolescent cannabis users and controls did not differ on several measures of reward and motivation.” 


Lead author of the study, Ph.D. Candidate Martine Skumlien, said in a statement: 

“We were surprised to see that there was really very little difference between cannabis users and non-users when it came to lack of motivation or lack of enjoyment, even among those who used cannabis every day.

“We’re so used to seeing ‘lazy stoners’ on our screens that we don’t stop to ask whether they’re an accurate representation.”  

The study 

274 adolescents and adults, aged 16-29, who have consumed cannabis on average four days a week for the last three months were observed during this study.

They were compared to participants who don’t consume cannabis. 

Participants completed questionnaires to measure anhedonia (lack of pleasure) and apathy levels (how much they enjoy the company of friends and family, or how likely they are to see a job through to completion). 

There were also set tests in place, for example; button pressing activities with rewards like sweets and chocolate to measure their levels of motivation and enjoyment. 

Just a myth 

According to the research, they found no difference in motivation for rewards, pleasure taken from rewards, or the brain’s response when seeking rewards in comparison to non-consumers. 

In addition to putting the stereotypes to the sword, researchers suggest it may ease concerns about the consumption of cannabis by younger people. 

Co-author Dr. Will Lawn from University College London’s Psychology and Language Sciences commented on the study: 

“There’s been a lot of concern that cannabis use in adolescence might lead to worse outcomes than cannabis use during adulthood.

“But our study, one of the first to directly compare adolescents and adults who use cannabis, suggests that adolescents are no more vulnerable than adults to the harmful effects of cannabis on motivation, the experience of pleasure, or the brain’s response to reward.

“In fact, it seems cannabis may have no link – or at most only weak associations – with these outcomes in general. However, we need studies that look for these associations over a long period of time to confirm these findings.” 

And Ph.D. student, Martine Skumlien, concluded: “Our work implies that … people who use cannabis are no more likely to lack motivation or be lazier than people who don’t.” 

Read: 5 Observations From Consuming Cannabis Before Exercise

Read: Cannabis Users Have Lower BMI And Lower Rates Of Obesity, But Why?

Read: CBD Makes Exercise More Pleasurable, Increases VO2max And Lowers Inflammation, Study Finds

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