During the days of anti-pot propaganda, one of the most effective arguments against marijuana was the amotivation of teenagers that it supposedly caused. It was believed that the use of marijuana led to the lack of interest in productive activities thus making teens show bad results at school.
Recently, a small study by Will Lawn from University College London was conducted to explore the effects of cannabis on motivation further. Although the study was small-scale, the published findings are quite fascinating.
The first study included a group of 17 people. The core of the research was very simple—people had to push the space bar on the keyboard again and again. The participants alternated inhaling marijuana vapor and placebo vapor. The results compared the ability to complete the task and the interest towards it.
Pushing a button may seem like a useless task, but the members of the group were making money pressing the bar. The scientists offered the participants to choose the complexity of the task at hand. They could either choose the low-effort task of pressing the space bar 30 times in 7 seconds, or the high-effort task of pressing the bar 100 times in 21 seconds. The tasks also differed in the amount of money the participants received as a reward. The money was an incentive, that is why this action was considered a good motivational mean.
The scientists compared the number of times people pushed the button while being sober and under the influence of marijuana. The results showed that people were less likely to choose the high-effort task when they were stoned.
The most unexpected findings were revealed in the second study. It included two groups of people—one of which consisted of people addicted to cannabis and the second was a control group that did not consume marijuana but used other substances. All participants were asked to refrain from the use of any kind of drugs and alcohol for 12 hours before the test.
The results showed that there was no carryover effect to the time when people are not stoned. This means that while cannabis may impact people’s motivation while they are under the influence, it does not cause chronic amotivational syndrome. The participants who admitted to being addicted to cannabis were no less motivated than the control group.
Another objective of the study was to observe the role of CBD in transient amotivation. The study shows that the absence of cannabidiol leads to a greater impact on motivation meaning that CBD mediates that impact.
This research is the first fully controlled study of the motivational effects of cannabis. However, the scientists are looking forward to further research. This recent study was rather small and had some limitations and discrepancies. For example, some participants had positive drug urine tests, which means that residual effects might have influenced the results of the study. Besides, the scientists did not take into account the strain preferences of addicted people, which might have resulted in some errors in the findings.