It turns out the popular stereotype of stoners as perpetually lazy couch potatoes may not be all that accurate. While weed smokers may have quite a bit of inertia while they’re high, they’re just as motivated as non-smokers when they’re sober.
A study out of the UK, published in the journal Psychopharmacology, details two studies in which 17 non-dependent cannabis users and 20 dependent users (compared with another 20 non-users) completed computer-based tasks designed to measure their motivation (they could win 65 cents each time they won).
The researchers found that the sober control group chose to complete tasks requiring more effort (that came with a higher payoff) more often than those who were high — 50 percent of the time compared to 42 percent of the time. And when dependent users were sober, they chose higher effort tasks just as often.
In other words, stoners are just like sober people: They’re just as motivated to do things, high or not.
There are a few caveats, though. For one, a total of 37 people is a really small study. It seems like it wouldn’t be hard to recruit people for a study that lets them get high and tap a space bar on a computer. But the study didn’t just require subjects to show up and get stoned — they had to give urine samples at the start of each session, they couldn’t drink alcohol or use illegal drugs in the 24 hours before the tests, and they had to sit through a training video on how to use the vaporizer properly. Basically: These were some pretty motivated stoners to begin with.
But that’s not the point. Smoking a joint doesn’t just automatically make you lazy, and it’s high time science got to that conclusion.