One of the biggest criticisms of cannabis to date is that it lowers a person’s motivation. But is this actually, scientifically accurate? As current studies suggest, this claim is part truth, part myth. Time to decipher the facts from good ol’ cannabis fiction.
How Motivation Works
Motivation is both intrinsic (internal) and extrinsic (external). It is essentially how willing you are to take some sort of action. When you feel motivated, you are empowered to achieve certain goals.
So, why is it that using cannabis creates a non-motivational state?
A neurochemical called dopamine plays a huge role in feeling motivated and is considered to be the brain’s reward chemical. It is closely linked with the learning and memory areas of the brain. When you anticipate something being pleasurable because you have already learned that it is, you are more motivated to act and get that reward.
Cannabis and Dopamine Release
Cannabis releases dopamine. The pathways in the brain that respond to rewards are very similar to the ones that respond to cannabis. When you ingest THC, CB-1 receptors in the brain’s endocannabinoid system get activated, which causes a release of dopamine. Hence that ‘feel-good’ feeling.
While that good sensation lasts about two hours, there is a change in how motivated you might feel. Back in the 1970’s, researchers coined the term ‘amotivational syndrome’ to describe how marijuana users became less driven to work, do well in school, and be social. But, over the years, this notion has been challenged and shown to be a bit inaccurate.
A 2006 study revealed that its 500 participants showed no differences in how motivated long-term marijuana users were versus non-users. Of course, there are a few studies that contradict these findings, but they do not have the large sample size. Some have also argued that depression, not marijuana, contributes more to demotivation.
Can Cannabis Increase How Motivated You Feel?
There are a few strains out there that seem to actually increase how motivated you feel. Super Lemon Haze is one of the most popular and generates an excellent surge of energy after it is taken. Sour Tangie is another well-liked strain, which is an 80% sativa cross between Tangie and Sour Diesel. This one is known for enhancing creativity as well.
Green Crack is another strain that a lot of people use to boost their motivational factor. Don’t let its name fool you; this strain is actually fairly reserved while still able to get you accomplishing some goals. The high that it produces is modest and keeps you from feeling too distracted. You might feel like getting more than just some housework accomplished.
Research still needs to be done as to exactly how cannabis impacts how motivated or ‘amotivated’ a person feels, and there are certainly a lot of other factors that need to be worked in. Some strains seem to actually get their users feeling motivated while still creating a high.