By Luke Sumpter

Several stereotypes surround cannabis use, including that of the unmotivated and lazy archetypal stoner. This individual, often seen wearing a sweaty bandana and round orange-tinted sunglasses, requires little more than the bare necessities. Give this couch-dweller an ounce of weed, unlimited nachos, and orange juice on tap, and they’ll reach a state of bliss that dampens the will to lift a finger.

This stereotypical character, seen again and again in weed-themed movies and cartoons, has an element of truth to it. However, not every weed smoker lives this way. Many people who use the herb ascend to great heights; they become CEOs and keystones of their families. Despite this, the idea that cannabis lowers motivation still percolates.

So, does weed destroy or cultivate motivation? That’s take a look at the cold hard facts below.

Weed and Motivation: The Latest Research

The effects of cannabis are not black and white. Instead, they’re highly nuanced and range drastically between individuals. There are hundreds of distinct cannabis strains that offer varying effects. The chemical profile of each cultivar interacts with the unique biology of each user, resulting in a massively diverse set of subjective experiences.

Some cannabis users will tell you that, thanks to weed, they’re able to routinely smash their work goals and hit the gym daily. Others, however, find that they start to experience apathy and disinterest in previous passions after prolonged use.

Weed and Motivation

But what does the research say? The anecdotes in this area are mixed. So, let’s take a look at the latest science to navigate the murky waters.


Marijuana and motivation have a complicated relationship. Typically, many people think using cannabis equates to laziness. However, some data suggests that cannabis does little to tamper with the will to work and get things done.

A 2022 study[1] published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology collected data from 274 adult and adolescent cannabis users. The researchers found that using cannabis relatively heavily—between 3 and 4 times per week—has no association with apathy.

The findings also showed that cannabis users had lower levels of anhedonia (the reduced ability to experience pleasure) than non-users.


The findings from the study above don’t always hold true, as made evident in another 2022 study[2]. The authors of this paper cite previous research that links cannabis use to decreased motivation to engage in normally rewarding activities.

To further test these findings, the researchers conducted a study designed to measure willingness to exert effort for rewards. The double-blind study administered either 7.5mg of THC, 15mg of THC or a placebo to a group of young healthy women.

After receiving either THC or a placebo, they completed sessions that involved choosing between a hard or an easy task, each correlating to a higher monetary reward based on difficulty.

The results showed that cannabis acutely reduced motivation to earn non-drug rewards. The exact mechanism that underpins this phenomenon remains unknown.


So, the research appears mixed, right? Some studies show that cannabis users have more of a drive to achieve pleasure and lower rates of apathy, while other results display the opposite.

In truth, a fair amount of controversy surrounds research on weed and motivation. There are many variables at play, particularly because a lot of the research relies on subjective qualitative data as opposed to objective quantitative analysis.

Away from cannabis use, an individual’s personality[3] can also drastically impact their motivation for reward. Many people who use weed are naturally driven, whereas many people who don’t lack an innate desire to achieve, and vice versa.

Weed and Motivation

Amotivational Syndrome

Research that supports the negative association between cannabis use and a reduction in motivation gave rise to a diagnosis called amotivational syndrome[4]. This condition is defined by the following:

  • A reduced desire to work or compete
  • Passivity
  • Lower achievement orientation

Some studies support the notion that cannabis use can increase the risk of a person exhibiting these traits. However, as mentioned, the myriad of variables at play means that many cannabis users never experience amotivational syndrome.

The Positive Effects of Cannabis on Motivation

So, does weed kill motivation? In some instances, it does. However, countless marijuana users find that smoking a joint or hitting a bong helps them to thrive. Let’s take a look at some of the positive effects of cannabis on motivation:

  • Creativity: Surprisingly, there’s a dearth of research that supports the use of cannabis for creativity. But countless musicians, painters, and writers pay homage to the herb for their creative works.
  • Holistic effects: Research efforts are still underway to prove the positive effects of cannabis. Some users claim that using weed can help them to transiently relieve conditions such as chronic pain, allowing them to focus on their goals, at least for a while.
  • Cognitive effects: Some cannabis strains possess chemical cocktails that energise the mind. Unique combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes, through the entourage effect, can help to inspire and motivate.
  • Dopamine release: Using cannabis that contains high levels of THC results in a surge of dopamine. However, the brain becomes desensitised to this effect over time. Dopamine plays a key role in motivation and reward. In the short term, cannabis can jolt a person into action.

The Negative Effects of Cannabis on Motivation

There’s no denying that cannabis can make some people lazy and chip away at their internal drive. Let’s explore some of the negative effects of weed on motivation below:

  • Dopamine blunting: Over time, the effects of THC on the dopamine system wane. Eventually, users don’t experience the same sense of euphoria and motivation. Without the dopamine spike of previous highs, smokers don’t experience the same sense of reward and motivation.
  • Impaired creativity: There’s more research to suggest that using cannabis impairs creativity more than stokes it. A 2015 study shows that cannabis use impaired[5] divergent thinking—the cognitive process involved in unique ideas and problem-solving. Likewise, a 2023 study[6] shows an association between cannabis use and joviality (cheerfulness) instead of creativity. In turn, joviality leads to a biased perception of one's own creative ideas.
  • Cannabis side effects: Different strains produce different side effects. Those high in THC and stoning terpenes such as myrcene can lead to deep states of relaxation and hunger. Naturally, smokers experiencing these effects are more prone to take a nap than get to work.

Weed and Motivation

Tip for Using Cannabis To Boost Motivating

If you’re using a lot of weed and want to stay motivated, there are certain measures you can take to prevent apathy from taking over. These include using weed responsibly, choosing the correct strain, and smoking at the right time of day. Check out these approaches in more depth below.

Use Cannabis Responsibly

If you want to avoid weed brain fog and stay switched on, then you need to use cannabis responsibly. Resisting abuse stands as one of the key tenets of responsible cannabis use. If you sense that your way of using the herb starts to impact your personal development and achievement, either dial back your use or change the strains you’re smoking.

Choose Your Cannabinoids Carefully

Cannabinoids, including THC and CBD, underpin the core effects of each weed strain. As the principal psychoactive constituent in cannabis, THC causes an acute rise in dopamine, though this effect wanes over time.

Take too much THC, and you’ll find yourself almost sedated. If THC takes too much of a toll on your motivation, try microdosing.

In contrast to THC, CBD doesn’t produce a high. Instead, you’ll experience a clear-headed effect. This cannabinoid shows promise in tackling motivation-related disorders in research studies[7].

Morning vs Evening: What Type of Smoker Are You?

Figure out the best time of day to smoke. This changes among different cannabis users. Some people find that waking and baking helps to kick start their day, whereas others want nothing more than to crawl back into bed. It also helps to choose energising strains if you’re smoking in the morning. If these still don’t work, smoke in the evenings when you’re free to laze around.

The Best Cannabis Strains for Motivation

You should carefully consider the cannabis strains you use if you’re concerned about a lull in motivation. The three varieties below are energising and will keep you productive.

Royal THCV

This vastly sativa-dominant hybrid leverages the powers of THCV to keep smokers in the zone. Although rare, this cannabinoid is gaining attention for its motivating and energising properties. Smoke up some Royal THCV buds if you need a jolt into action.

Royal THCV
23_genetic background_1 Pure African Sativa x Durban Haze
33_Yield indoors_1 500 - 550 gr/m2
31_plant height outdoor_1 80 - 120 cm
25_flowering time_1 9 - 10 weeks
29_THC_1 THC: 7%
28_Type Blend_1 Sativa 95% Indica 5%
34_yield outdoor_1 425 - 475 gr/plant
32_plant height outdoors_1 140 - 180 cm
27_harvest period_1 Late October
22_Effect_1 Clear, Motivating , Uplifting
103_cbd icons 05 7%

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Sundae Driver

Sundae Driver possesses a massive THC content of 23%. She’ll get you super high, but her clear-headed terpenes will allow you to stay in control and get things done.

Sundae Driver
23_genetic background_1 Fruity Pebbles OG x Grape Pie
33_Yield indoors_1 400 - 450 gr/m2
31_plant height outdoor_1 90 – 140 cm
25_flowering time_1 9 - 11 weeks
29_THC_1 THC: 23%
28_Type Blend_1 Sativa 50% Indica 50%
34_yield outdoor_1 450 - 500 gr/plant
32_plant height outdoors_1 130 - 170 cm
27_harvest period_1 Early October
22_Effect_1 Balanced, Euphoric, Motivating

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Triple G

As the progeny of Gorilla Glue 4 and Gelato 33, Triple G packs an insane THC value of 26%. Use these buds in small amounts, though, and you’ll take advantage of her euphoric and motivating effects.

Triple G
23_genetic background_1 Gorilla Glue 4 x Gelato 33
33_Yield indoors_1 525 - 575 gr/m2
31_plant height outdoor_1 90 – 140 cm
25_flowering time_1 8 - 9 weeks
29_THC_1 THC: 26%
28_Type Blend_1 Sativa 15% Indica 85%
34_yield outdoor_1 600 - 650 gr/plant
32_plant height outdoors_1 140 - 180 cm
27_harvest period_1 Middle of October
22_Effect_1 Clear, Euphoric, Fast Thinking, Motivating

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Cannabis and Motivation: Risks and Precautions

You’re almost set to use cannabis in a way that minimises its impact on your productivity. To summarise, keep these tips in mind when blazing to avoid a lull in motivation:

  • Use cannabis responsibly and reduce your consumption if your productivity starts to decrease
  • Choose your cannabinoids wisely and opt for high-CBD strains if you feel your motivation waning
  • Select strains with energising, instead of stoning, terpenes
  • Find the best time of day that works for you; avoid smoking at times that make you want to give up on your responsibilities
  • Choose strains that are designed to offer energising, cerebral, and euphoric effects

Cannabis and Motivation: Take a Responsible Approach

As you’ve learned, the research around cannabis and motivation remains mixed. The herb doesn’t affect motivation in some people but lowers it in others. Cannabis can also negatively impact creativity and blunt the dopamine system. Remember, an individual’s personality also plays a big role in how motivated they feel, away from cannabis.

Overall, you should strive to use cannabis responsibly to shield your motivation. Smoke at times of the day that work for you, and select energising strains filled with terpenes that increase focus.

External Resources:
  1. Anhedonia, Apathy, Pleasure, and Effort-Based Decision-Making in Adult and Adolescent Cannabis Users and Controls | International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology | Oxford Academic
  2. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol reduces willingness to exert effort in women | SpringerLink
  3. A Comprehensive Examination of the Links between Cannabis Use and Motivation
  4. A Comprehensive Examination of the Links between Cannabis Use and Motivation
  5. Cannabis and creativity: highly potent cannabis impairs divergent thinking in regular cannabis users | SpringerLink
  6. Cannabis use does not increase actual creativity but biases evaluations of creativity.
  7. Beyond the CB1 Receptor: Is Cannabidiol the Answer for Disorders of Motivation?
This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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