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Cannabis users’ ‘lazy stoner’ Stereotype is ‘Unfair’: Scientists

The “lazy stoner” stereotype just went up in smoke.

We all know the cliché: potheads are called spaced-out, lethargic and unmotivated. But a new study has revealed that isn’t always, or even often, the case with cannabis users.

Researchers in the UK found that those who consume cannabis regularly are no more loafing than non-users — and no less likely to enjoy life’s pleasures, either.

“We’re so used to seeing ‘lazy stoners’ on our screens that we don’t stop to ask whether they’re an accurate representation of cannabis users,” said University of Cambridge neuroscientist Martine Skumlien, an author of the study, in a statement Thursday.

“Our work implies that this [term] is in itself a lazy stereotype, and that people who use cannabis are no more likely to lack motivation or be lazier than people who don’t,” Skumlien continued.

The researcher added, “Unfair assumptions can be stigmatizing and could get in the way of messages around harm reduction. We need to be honest and frank about what are and are not the harmful consequences of drug use.”

Cannabis is the third most used substance in the world, behind alcohol and nicotine — prompting scientists and physicians to explore its effects, and potential benefits.

People that smoke cannabis are stereotypically portrayed as lazy and apathetic.

Researchers studied 274 adolescent and adult cannabis users who had used the drug at least weekly over the past three months, at an average rate of four days per week — and compared them against non-users of the same age and gender.

All were given a questionnaire to asses their level of motivation (apathy), and interest in things they ordinarily enjoy (anhedonia).

Researchers tested the participant’s behavioral responses using a rapid button-pressing game and using treats such as chocolate or a £1 coin as a reward if they achieved their goal. Participants were asked how much they wanted the reward on a scale from “do not want at all” to “intensely want” before the test and asked how satisfying it was after receiving the reward on a scale from “do not like at all” to “intensely like.”

In the end, cannabis users responded to rewards with marginally lower levels of satisfaction, suggesting that they could be just as content without the prize, and demonstrated no more or less motivation during the trial compared to non-users.

Their findings are particularly significant to those studying the effects of cannabis on adolescents, as some researchers have previously hypothesized that cannabis use among kids and teens could impact their developing brains.

“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,” said psychology researcher Will Lawn, of King’s College London, who contributed to the study.

“In fact, it seems cannabis may have no link — or at most only weak associations — with these outcomes in general,” Lawn concluded of their findings, now published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology.

In August, a survey showed that young Americans are smoking weed and tripping on psychedelics more than ever.

The study conducted by the University of Michigan for the National Institutes of Health, found that 43% of adults ages 19 to 30 smoked cannabis at some point in the past year — a significant jump from 34% five years ago, and 29% in 2011.

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