Cannabis is becoming more and more popular with each year that passes. More and more countries continue to legalize this plant, and new technology allows for new products and methods of consumption to become available on the market. According to the 2019 World Drug Report around 200 million people worldwide smoke cannabis.
Back in the day, cannabis was not nearly as strong as it is today. Back in the 1980s, cannabis had on average a concentration of 2% THC. Nowadays, it's common to see cannabis strains with 18-2-% THC, some even going up to 30% THC.
With so many people worldwide accepting cannabis use, why are cannabis users still stereotyped as being apathetic, uninterested and unmotivated?
First, we should define apathy. Apathy is basically a feeling of feeling nothing. You don't feel sad, or happy, you are simply lacking feelings.
Symptoms of apathy include:
- A lack of desire to meet new people or learn new skills
- Not caring about your own problems or others concerns
- A lack of energy to get things done
- No motivation to make plans
So, could cannabis use really lead to apathy in cannabis users? Let’s dive in.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
First, let's look into the endocannabinoid system. You are most likely aware of the 11 major human body organ systems: circulatory, respiratory, urinary, reproductive, integumentary, skeletal, muscular, nervous, endocrine, lymphatic and digestive systems. Combined, these systems keep your body functioning.
However, there is a less well- known system: the endocannabinoid system. It was first discovered by Dr. L.A. Matsuta in the 1990s. (She) was the one to describe the structure and functional use of the CB-1 receptors. What they discovered was that there are many cannabinoid receptors (CBr) throughout the body in the cells of the peripheral and central nervous system. On a later date, scientists discovered there are also CB-2 receptors, many of which are located in the cells of the immune system, digestive system and other major organs. This was a major breakthrough.
With more time, scientists discovered this system has 3 parts:
- Endocannabinoids (basically chemicals that are similar to cannabis that occur naturally in the body
- Receptors throughout the body (The endocannabinoids and cannabinoids bond to them)
- Enzymes (these help break down the endocannabinoids and cannabinoids)
The ECS plays a major role in homeostasis. Homeostasis in simple terms, is the body's tendency to keep everything stable. This means the body's temperature, hormones etc. regardless of the environment. An example would be when you go outside on a cold day, and you begin to shiver. This is your body's way of warming itself up. Your body's goal with shivering is that you body will be able to maintain its ideal temperature, regardless of the cold temperatures you are exposed to. Similarly, you body sweats to cool itself down. This is all in order to maintain homeostasis.
Fun Fact: All animals have an ECS.
So, when something in the body is out of whack, the ECS uses receptors to initiate homeostasis. With these receptors, the ECS assists in regulating several functions, such as:
- Immune function
It's important to note that everyone has an endocannabinoid system, regardless of weather they use cannabis. It's also important to know that experts know very little about the ECS, and much more research is needed to fully understand it.
How Does Cannabis Interact With The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
When an individual smokes cannabis, the cannabinoids in cannabis overwhelms the ECS, attaching to the receptors located all over the body. This results in the endocannabinoids naturally found in the body to have nowhere to bind to, which can throat the system off balance as they cannot do the job they are meant to do.
THC is one of the cannabinoids found in cannabis, it's the main compound responsible for getting you high. It's powerful because it can bind to both CB-1 and CB-2 receptors. This allows for a range of effects, from increased appetite to reduced pain. In large doses, it can also result in anxiety and paranoia.
THC is known for being mood-boosting. Studies show that THC activates the same regions of the brain when people eat good food, have sexual intercourse, or feel good about buying something at half the price. We’re less likely to feel worried or anxious when we experience joy or feel rewarded.
People who smoke weed a few times a week tend to be more relaxed and less anxious partly as a result of THC's mood-boosting ability.
CBD is another well known cannabinoid. It's non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn't get you high. CBD is known for being great for medicinal use, as it can help reduce inflammation, decrease pain, and much more.
However, experts are not sure exactly how it functions in the ECS. All they know is it does not bind to receptors the same way THC does. Some argue that there is another type of receptor we haven't discovered yet. Others argue that it prevents endocannabinoids from breaking down, which allows them to have a greater effect on the body.
There are many different cannabinoids found in cannabis, all of which have different effects when consumed. It's estimated that 60-100 different cannabinoids exist, possibly more. Here are some of the most common cannabinoids, and their effects.
CBG (cannabigerol): This cannabinoid has become rather popular amongst researchers as they try to discover all of its benefits. It's non- psychoactive, and is only present in small amounts. It's said to be effective at reducing symptoms of glaucoma, Chrons disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
CBC (cannabichromene): This is another non-psychoactive cannabinoid praised for its healing properties. It's said to help fight cancer and reduce inflammation.
CBN (cannabinol): This cannabinoid is slightly psychoactive, but not nearly as much as THC. It's created when THC is exposed to oxygen. This is why cannabis can loose potency overtime as THC concentration decreases and CBN increases.
So.. How Does This All Link Back to Cannabis Users Being Apathetic?
There is something called Amotivational syndrome. It's described as a chronic psychiatric disorder that results in individuals feeling unmotivated, uninterested, detached, and overall uninvolved in what's going on around them. It can be separated into two different categories
- Cannabis induced
- SSRI induced (Studies have concluded it can be a symptom in those who take SSRIs, which are common medications used to treat depression)
Cannabis induced Amotivational syndrome is most often diagnosed in youth who are frequent, regular users. It's suspected that this ailment affects the frontal lobe or frontal cortex in the brain, however much more research is required. It's also presumed that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in this disorder. Click here to read more about the first fully controlled study to objectively conclude that long term, frequent cannabis use can result in amotivational tendencies.
It's important to remember this syndrome is not common, and only occurs in extreme cases. The average cannabis user will not experience this ailment. Studies have concluded that moderate cannabis users will not experience any personality deficits. It's only a possibility in those who use cannabis literally 24/7, and even then there is only a small chance of this disorder developing. Moderation is key with most things in life, even carrots can be a bad thing in high doses.
What's The Scientific Reasoning For This?
Studies have concluded that moderate cannabis users will not experience any of the personality deficits associated with Amotivational syndrome. But why? The answer has to do with the endocannabinoid system.
Anandamide and AG-2 are endocannabinoids found in the body. It's made from the fat that we consume in our diets. We feel a sense of reward and happiness when we consume fatty foods. This is because our brains are releasing these endocannabinoids shortly after eating them. We feel these effects as they go to our endocannabinoid receptors, and binds to them, think similar to a lock and key. For this example, cannabis is the lock, and our receptors are the key.
What happens when we overuse the lock? Our brain does something strange.. It actually takes away the lock (receptor). This is why people need to smoke more and more, as there are less receptors available to bind to the cannabinoids. This is also the reasoning for why someone builds up a tolerance to cannabis.
Is there an issue with having less working locks (receptors) in our brains? Yes. It was not until a few years ago that scientists discovered why this is an issue.
Back in 2006 a drug called Acomplia was brought onto the market in the UK. It was designed to treat obesity. It was invented based on the knowledge that cannabis results in munchies, which is essentially the desire to eat high- calorie fatty foods shortly after getting high. It was also known that the reasoning for munchies is a result of certain cannabinoids bonding to receptors. Acomplia was designed to block these receptors, which in theory would stop peoples cravings of high calorie snacks.
Even though the drug was very effective, it was discovered it has terrible side-effect: Depression and suicidal thoughts. The drug was quickly removed from the market.
This disaster was somewhat a blessing in disguise: it taught neuroscientists something very important about the ECS. They learned that our receptors need to be functioning as normal to experience normal, daily feelings of happiness and pleasure. If the receptors in our brains are blocked 24/7 by cannabinoids, they cannot function properly, and some receptors will become inactive. This is when individuals feel a sense of apathy.
Why Can I Feel Apathy After Smoking Then?
You may have noticed after smoking a joint you are no longer stressed about whatever you were concerned about beforehand. Again, this is all due to the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
After smoking cannabis, the cannabinoids travel through the body and bind to receptors, just as I explained earlier. The cannabinoids are binding to receptors that will make you feel less, which reduces stress. The difference is your receptors are not overused, so you still have plenty available, and it's only a short term effect.
After a few hours, you will no longer be high, the enzymes of the ECS have broken down the cannabinoids, and your body will go back to a homeostatic state. Basically, you will feel completely normal, just as you did before consuming the plant.
Is Apathy a Bad Thing?
While science also proves beyond all doubt that smoking a joint can make you apathetic, we can just sweep that under the rug if one was to ingest marijuana in small doses. There comes a time in your life where caring for other people and things can become unhealthy for you and you need to stop for a while in order to recover. Marijuana can help you achieve that state of mind cheaper and faster with little-to-no side effects.
Think about it this way: You just finished a long day of work, and you are stressed about a task you need to complete. You smoke a bit of cannabis, and suddenly you are no longer overthinking and stressing about work. You can go do something you enjoy, such as going for a walk or playing video games without the constant worrying. You will most likely be more productive the following day at work as you were able to get a good night's rest and relax for a bit.
What is your favourite thing to do after smoking cannabis? Let us know in the comments!
Overall, one must keep moderation in mind, just like with everything in life. Enjoying a joint at the end of your day is nothing to be concerned about, and feeling apathetic after smoking is not an issue at all, again so long as it's not 24/7. Cannabis can help people boost their mood, relax, sleep, and much more. It has so many medicinal properties and can improve many aspects of people's lives.
It's also proven that growing your own cannabis can have therapeutic effects. Many people enjoy the hobby of learning how to grow their own plants.
Are you interested in growing your own cannabis? Are you concerned you do not have enough time to tend to them, or worried your black thumb may kill them?
Grobo is the solution. Grobo is an automated grow box designed to help anyone grow plants easily at home. You do not need to have any horticulture knowledge to be able to use a Grobo and start growing your own cannabis today.