Stereotypes about marijuana are slowly being reexamined. The assumption that all cannabis consumers are lazy is one of them. While it’s not exactly known where the lazy stoner stereotype came from, we know now it certainly isn’t grounded in fact.
Actually, there’s a long list of anecdotal evidence and an increasing body of scientific research that shows cannabis can actually increase motivation rather than stifle it. Sure, some types of cannabis can make you relaxed and sleepy, but in a world of innovative new marijuana products, that certainly doesn’t always have to be the case.
Some of the most influential thinkers and doers of recent history were, and sometimes still are, cannabis consumers. The list includes Steve Jobs, Carl Sagan, Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Branson and Oliver Sacks.
All of these incredibly productive and highly successful people have publicly talked about consuming cannabis and how it enhances their lives. None of these figures would be considered lacking in motivation by any stretch of the imagination.
The Science Behind Cannabis, Dopamine & Motivation
Lack of motivation can be a side effect of many different conditions, including:
- Chronic pain
Motivation has everything to do with our brain’s reward pathway. Engaging in certain activities—like sex or eating—increases dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that uses the brain’s reward pathway to play a critical role in so many areas such as mood, learning, pleasure and motivation. Increased dopamine levels can boost focus, motivation and feelings of enjoyment. On the flipside, too little dopamine can have opposite consequences like muscle cramps, mental fog, lethargy and lack of motivation.
To understand the critical role dopamine plays in motivation, researchers bred a group of mice that were physically incapable of producing and releasing dopamine. The 1999 study showed that mice without dopamine lacked the motivation to even eat enough food. The main takeaway from the study: The proper dopamine level is critical to sustained motivation and possibly even survival.
Luckily, there’s promising research that shows cannabis can increase the level and effectiveness of dopamine in the short term. A 2016 study looked at THC’s effects on dopamine levels in the brain. The researchers concluded that THC “induces dopamine release in the human striatum,” a part of the brain associated with our reward and motivation response.
Marijuana can also determine the effectiveness of dopamine in an indirect way. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is very closely linked with the body’s dopamine signaling system. Cannabis activates CB1 receptors on GABA (a neurotransmitter acid that connects the brain and the nervous system) neurons. These GABA neurons actually work to inhibit the effectiveness of dopamine. So, essentially, cannabis temporarily suppresses GABA, the chemical that inhibits dopamine. This means dopamine production and effectiveness can increase under the influence of cannabinoids, specifically THC. That’s why high-THC sativa cannabis strains can help increase your motivation.
Cannabis Strains That Can Get You Motivated
When considering the following marijuana strains, it’s important to note that these are all high in THC. This means you’re almost certain to experience psychoactive effects. If you’re worried about high-potency THC or feeling too high, start very slowly with these strains, and allow yourself only small doses at the beginning.
Super Lemon Haze
Super Lemon Haze is a very popular strain, making it easily accessible for people in most states with legal cannabis laws. Its popularity comes not only from its citrusy flavor, but also its unique high. Super Lemon Haze will boost your heart rate and provide a nice surge of energy. This strain is recommended for activities like cleaning the house, filing paperwork, working out or any other task that requires focus—and can be completed with a bit of a cerebral high.
This is another extremely popular sativa hybrid strain. With Jack Herer, you can expect a high that hits hard at the front end, but fades quickly into a clear-headed, focused and creative state of mind. Try this strain when you’re working on an artistic project or brainstorming creative solutions to difficult problems. This cannabis strain isn’t recommended before bed if you have a hard time falling asleep or if you’re particularly prone to paranoia.
This is an 80% sativa cross between Sour Diesel and Tangie. These are two very popular strains on their own, but together they create a truly enjoyable blend to boost daytime motivation. You can expect to feel elevated and creative while staying focused and productive.
We all have those days when our bad mood gets in the way of our motivation. In those cases, it might be time to try a little Cinex. This marijuana strain is a sativa hybrid known for its ability to melt away a bad mood and elevate energy. If you know for a fact you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, start your morning with a small dose of Cinex for a mental reset.
Green Crack is a great strain to boost motivation. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how mellow this strain’s effects are at low doses compared to its rather unfortunate and dramatic name. You’ll certainly have a cerebral high, but not the kind that will distract you from the task at hand. For some consumers, it’s their strain of choice to consume before workouts. They report Green Crack gives them motivation, focus and increased endurance.
Lack of motivation can come as a result of all sorts of medical conditions and less chronic events like a bad night’s sleep. Regardless of the reason, prolonged periods without the proper level of motivation can have a serious effect on a person’s quality of life. If you’re feeling a lack of motivation, give these cannabis strains a try in small doses, and let us know what you think.
Photo credit: Stephen Leonardi