You’ll certainly get no shortage of opinions asking this question, usually from two heavily entrenched camps of simply “Yes” or “No.” In the absence of reliable science, the only real answer is “maybe.” But I don’t need a study to tell me how cannabis makes me feel, and I’m sure you can guess what camp I fall into.
Debates surrounding cannabis and motivation, laziness, etc. inevitably point to conflicting studies and anecdotal evidence we see in our lives. Proponents of usage point to people like Ricky Williams or George Zimmer, while the anti-cannabis crowd has no shortage of the stereotypical, unmotivated “stoners” we’ve all encountered.
There’s a few things to consider.
One of the main problems is that such a large number of “regular” people who have never used cannabis have problems with things like motivation, depression, and so on. It’s a big challenge for any study to take every possible factor into account and truly determine the effects cannabis use has.
I’m wading into a rant on the overall effectiveness of “studies” in general, which I having no business doing, but either way, they’re not much use to you at this point.
The anecdotal evidence we see is even more confusing. Spend a little time in a dispensary and you’ll see a bizarre mix of people. Yes, the slight majority fulfill the “stoner” stereotype to varying degrees, but you’ll also see some serious ass-kickers; I’ve seen everything from marathon runners to self-made millionaires to people working 80 hours a week.
So, what the hell is going on?
I’ve already covered this in the first chapter, but I’ll mention again that there’s still a huge amount of stigma surrounding cannabis use. It’s absolutely embedded in the majority of the public’s mind that cannabis use is directly linked to being lazy, stupid, etc.
This stigma may also cause people who are inclined towards laziness and irresponsibility to gravitate towards cannabis use as an excuse for their behavior, further skewing studies. People love having something to blame other than themselves for their failures, and often use cannabis as an excuse to stay on the sidelines of life. And when things go wrong for a teenager, parents rarely take any responsibility. Cannabis use then serves as an easy scapegoat, perpetuating stigma.
The expectation of feeling tired and lazy is so high it’s almost certain you’ll end up feeling that way regardless of whether or not cannabis actually had anything to do with it.
Another reason is one I touched on in the first chapter, but again, the stigma is so powerful that you can hear people who drink alcohol, eat like shit, and haven’t worked out in years talking about how “weed makes them tired.” (True story—I once had a friend who was an intravenous heroin user tell me he hated pot because it “sucked the life right out of him.”)
Well, maybe, but if you haven’t eliminated everything else, how would you know? Don’t eat a bag of Doritos and pound a liter of Pepsi and talk to me about being “burnt out.” Drink lots of water, eat healthy, get some bloody exercise and then you’ll really find out what cannabis may or may not be doing for you.
And a lot of people are just overdosing themselves. Whether it’s bad advice from a budtender or just plain gluttony, in many cases, it’s simply a dosage issue.
As legalization moves along, I think this problem will largely be solved by more sophisticated and accurate delivery methods. Like with diet, don’t start smoking Death Bubba 10 minutes after you wake up and then lament that “weed is ruining your life.” If I had to wager, I’d bet weed probably isn’t ruining your life; you are.
As mentioned, many long-time cannabis users are convinced cannabis is making them lazy. So, like the placebo effect in reverse, when people stop using, there’s a slingshot effect that causes them to proclaim quitting cannabis as the sole reason for their feeling better. It’s possible. But more likely is that they simply have such an embedded expectation of feeling better that they inevitably do feel better and become more productive, at least in the short term.
I’m quite confident that one day, we’ll have a true understanding of how cannabis affects people, and it’s going to reveal that for a small percentage of the population, cannabis is beneficial; for a small percentage, it’s harmful; and that for the vast majority, it’s mostly a sideways move, with harm or benefit dependent on how they use.
If you interact with thousands of cannabis users, you’ll start to see this play out. It’s the only way to explain the paradoxical energy levels of some users in the face of so many “stoners.” Some people smoke heavy kush all day and climb mountains, while some people have a panic attack just thinking about a bong hit. There has to be an explanation, but we’re not there yet.
When I started turning my life around, I certainly questioned my cannabis use. How could you not, when your life is a train wreck? But I loved it. I had been addicted to other drugs, and I knew this was different. So, I decided to try and change my life without changing how I used cannabis, and guess what? I found it was everything else sapping my energy and making me unhappy. It was junk food, antidepressants, video games, masturbation, zero exercise, and a million other things doing it.
On the flipside, I do actually enjoy purposely overdosing myself in certain situations. It’s good to be motivated and on the go, but sometimes it’s best for our bodies to take a day off from the gym or a demanding project, and it can be difficult for high-functioning individuals to decompress and just relax. A higher than normal dose to slow down the mind and body can be very beneficial if you’re run down.
So, is cannabis making you lazy? It’s possible, but I’m willing to bet otherwise. Unfortunately, right now, neither myself, nor any study can tell you for sure. Try doing your best while using cannabis, and if that doesn’t work, then maybe it’s time to get serious about walking away. Tune out the noise, listen to your body, and you’ll figure it out.