Whoa, Dude! Debunking The Myth of The Stoner Lifestyle

Pop culture has given us Jeff Spicoli, Cheech & Chong, and myriad other characters who are perpetually stoned and lazy from using cannabis. Medical science continues to debunk these stereotypes.

The latest case in point: A new investigation into the effects of regular marijuana use challenges several common misperceptions about cannabis, revealing no link between habitual consumption and either paranoia or diminished motivation among frequent users. Additionally, there was no indication that marijuana use leads to a next-day hangover.

The authors of this study, released on April 23 in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, noted that the findings debunked superficial notions about marijuana and human behavior. They remarked on the surprising revelation that chronic users did not exhibit increased apathy or decreased motivation, whether for external or internal reasons, nor were they less inclined to push themselves.

The researchers criticized the prevailing bias against cannabis, attributing it to historical criminalization that has hindered an impartial assessment of its pros and cons. They argued that this skewed perception has led to stigmatization and erroneous stereotypes, with pot prohibitionists deeming recreational cannabis use unethical or morally reprehensible.

One unequivocal discovery highlighted in the report was that “individuals enjoy the experience of being high.”

Separate polling confirms it. According to a survey released in February by Gallup, 17% of Americans in 2023 reported they smoke marijuana, similar to the 16% found in 2022 but higher than the 11% to 13% range recorded from 2015 to 2021 (see chart).

The study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science goes on to state:

“Predictably, chronic users reported a range of positive emotions when high, such as awe, inspiration, and gratitude, alongside reduced stress and fear compared to times when they were not high. These emotional insights shed light on why chronic users turn to cannabis—simply put, they enjoy it.”

The study also refuted the notion that being high increased paranoia among chronic users, contradicting common depictions and even medical literature.

“In the real world, the effects of cannabis intoxication among chronic users appear fleeting, with little indication of any lingering ‘weed hangover’ hours or days later,” the study observed.

Interestingly, the researchers differentiated between frequent and less-frequent users among habitual consumers, although both groups reported regular instances of being high.

“Our comparisons between individuals who are high often (approximately 32% of the time, 4–6 times weekly) and those exceptionally high (approximately 96% of the time, multiple times daily) underscored these distinctions.”

Study participants—adults aged 21 and over from the U.S. or Canada who used marijuana at least three times a week for nonmedical purposes—were recruited via Reddit and engaged in a 30-minute baseline survey, followed by brief surveys five times daily between 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. over one week.

“Contrary to popular stereotypes, we observed minimal impact on motivation.”

And yet, pot prohibitionists continue to push back against legalization, insisting that marijuana destroys physical health and personal initiative. Their arguments against cannabis normalization are continually debunked by the scientific data, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t quit trying.

A quick disclaimer: Whether you think marijuana legalization is beneficial or immoral is beside the point. The legalization train has left the station and no politician can stop it. Some people refuse to invest in so-called “sin stocks,” within industries such as tobacco, firearms, alcohol, or gambling. Perhaps you count marijuana as a sin. That is certainly your right. But if you’re motivated to earn money, know this: the marijuana industry is a multi-billion-dollar juggernaut and it’s only getting bigger.

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John Persinos is the editorial director of Investing Daily.

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This article previously appeared on Investing Daily.