Can Marijuana Influence the Motivation To Work — Yes or No?

Can Marijuana Influence the Motivation To Work?

Can marijuana influence the motivation to work? The answer is obvious – its psychoactive effect impairs the ability to learn, remember or make decisions, which significantly reduces the willingness to take any kind of challenge. However, does this effect persist even after the use of marijuana? This question was recently answered by scientist from London, who came to an interesting conclusion.

Can marijuana smoking affect motivation?

Researchers from the University of London, in a study published in the journal “Psychopharmacology”, showed that the condition after taking marijuana has a significant impact on motivation. However, as the researchers have proven, this effect is visible only when stoned from marijuana. In the case of people addicted to marijuana, when they are not under the influence of a drug, the influence of marijuana on motivation is not observed,  compared to people in the control group.

Marijuana and motivation to work

Two experiments were carried out.

First experiment

17 volunteers took part in the first of them. For each of the participants, three research sessions were conducted at intervals (one week between each session). During the first session, volunteers were given marijuana with a high THC content and a trace amount of CBD.

Second session

During the second session, they received marijuana rich in both THC and CBD. In the last research session, the participants received a placebo.

The test consisted in giving the volunteer marijuana and – shortly after that – ordering him to perform a specially designed task, for which the correct performance of the participant could receive a certain amount of money.

Each participant had two forms to choose from: easier and more difficult. For completing a more difficult task, the participant won a larger amount of money than for completing an easier task.

The easier form of the task was to press the space bar with a small finger of the non-dominant hand 30 times in 7 seconds. 
In a more difficult version, the participant had to perform 100 key presses in 21 seconds. 

The result of the study

This study showed that people who are under the influence of marijuana are less likely to perform a more difficult form of task. In addition, it turned out that cannabis with a higher CBD content has a smaller effect on motivation than the one with traces cannabinoid.

This is most likely related to the inhibitory effects of CBD on THC – that people who are under the influence of marijuana are less likely to perform a more difficult form of task. In addition, it turned out that cannabis with a higher CBD content has a smaller effect on motivation than the one with traces of cannabinoid.

Second experiment

The second experiment was attended by 40 people, 20 of them dependent on marijuana, using it regularly and 20 people making up the control group. Study participants were instructed to perform a similar task. The volunteers from the first 20, after 12-hour abstinence from all kinds of stimulants, including marijuana or alcohol. The study showed that participants addicted to marijuana are as motivated to perform the task as the control group. This suggests that the cannabis effect on motivation takes place only immediately after taking the drug and subsides during abstinence.

Marijuana affects motivation only when we are “high”

Another study

A similar study, testing the effect of marijuana on motivation, was carried out on rats, and its results were published in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neurobiology. During the experiment, rats performed a task that consisted of hitting their noses with a light that was on. This resulted in receiving rewards in the form of a certain number of sugar cubes, depending on whether the animal chose an easier or more difficult version of the task.

In an easier version, the light was on for 1 second and the rat received 1 sugar cube for completing the task. 
In the more difficult version, the light turned on for 0.2 seconds, and for the task, the rodent was awarded 2 cubes of sugar. 

The rat could choose whether to perform an easier or more difficult form of the task. The rats were subjected to the experiment before marijuana administration and shortly after administration of cannabinoids. The study examined the effect of two major cannabinoids – THC and CBD – on the behavior of rodents.


Researchers noticed that rats are more likely to choose a more difficult version of a task before marijuana administration, and more likely to use the easier version after marijuana administration. It was also noticed that CBD – which in humans weakens the psychoactive effect of THC – in rats does not show such an effect. It also does not affect the motivation in these animals.

Final thoughts

As the results of the above experiments show, marijuana undoubtedly influences the motivation to take action. However, this effect is visible only at the time of “being high” on marijuana. Furthermore, after discontinuing marijuana, when cannabinoids leave the body, this effect is no longer visible. The effect of marijuana is therefore temporary and disappears after discontinuing its use.

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