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Smoking Weed Does Make You Lazy, Scientists Confirm

Smoking Weed Does Make You Lazy, Scientists Confirm


BRITISH COLOMBIA, Canada, Thursday September 1, 2016 – Drifting in a pleasantly lethargic daze has long been associated with smoking weed, and a new Canadian study has confirmed that, in rats at least, the main psychoactive ingredient in the herb causes laziness.

The new research, which was published in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, examined the effects of both tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the drug’s main active ingredient – and the non-psychoactive compound cannabidiol (CBD) on the lab rats’ willingness to exert cognitive effort.

The researchers began by training 29 male rats on two different challenges, with rats that successfully completed the more difficult task earning two sugar pellets, and those that chose the easier task earning just one.

Under normal circumstances, the rats picked the harder, more rewarding task. The same rats nevertheless chose the easier task after being dosed with THC.

CBD, which does not produce a high and is believed to have medicinal benefits including the treatment of pain, epilepsy and even cancer, neither impacted the animals’ cognitive behaviour nor blocked the cognitive impact of THC.

“This was surprising, as it had been suggested that high concentrations of CBD could modulate or reduce the negative effects of THC,” said the study’s senior author, Dr Catharine Winstanley.

“Unfortunately, that did not appear to be the case.”

According to the study’s lead author, Mason Silveira, the THC did not make the rats less intelligent – just lazier.

“When rats were given THC – the active ingredient in cannabis or marijuana – we found that they were less likely to exert the mental energy needed to do more difficult tasks,” said Silveira, a PhD candidate in psychology at the University of British Columbia.

“What’s particularly interesting is though they were less likely to do these more difficult tasks they were still able to.

“There’s this distinction between THC’s ability to affect your cognition versus your willingness to actually use your cognitive abilities.”

Silveira noted that the work underscores the need for more research to determine the impact of THC on the human brain, to explore how any of those potential negative effects could be mitigated, and to look into the effect of other marijuana compounds other than CBD on THC’s impact.

“Our research highlights that, yes, cannabis itself may be beneficial for a variety of things, but can maybe lead to these impairments in cognition that you might want to consider,” he said.

A 2012 report by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse said there was “sound evidence” from both animal and clinical trials that medicinal marijuana can offer relief of nausea and vomiting and certain types of pain, but warned there was a lack of research documenting the risks associated with the medical use of cannabis.

In an unrelated study, researchers from Imperial College London showed that long-term use of marijuana destroys dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical in the brain that inspires a spirit of get-up-and-go.

Another study, led by the University of California, found that people who smoked marijuana regularly ended up with lower-paying, less skilled and less prestigious jobs than those who were not regular marijuana smokers.

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