Marijuana is said to have a deleterious effect on society by making users passive, apathetic, unproductive, and unable or unwilling to fulfill their responsibilities.
The concept of an amotivational syndrome first appeared in the late 1960s, 68 as marijuana use was increasing among American youth. In the years since, despite the absence of an agreed-upon definition of the concept, numerous researchers have attempted to verify its occurrence.
Large-scale studies of high school students have generally found no difference in grade-point averages between marijuana users and non-users. 69 One study found lower grades among students reported to be daily users of marijuana, but the authors failed to identify a causal relationship and concluded that both phenomena were part of a complex of inter-related social and emotional problems. 70
In one longitudinal study of college students, after controlling for other factors, marijuana users were found to have higher grades than non-users 7l and to be equally as likely to successfully complete their educations. 72 Another study found that marijuana users in college scored higher than non-users on standardized “achievement values” scales. 73
Field studies conducted in Jamaica, Costa Rica and Greece also found no evidence of an amotivational syndrome marijuana-using populations.
In these samples of working-class males, the educational and employment records of marijuana users were, for the most part, similar to those of non-users. In fact, in Jamaica, marijuana was often smoked during working hours as an aid to productivity.
The results of laboratory studies have been nearly as consistent.
In one study lasting 94 days, marijuana had no significant impact on learning, performance or motivation. 74
In another 31-day study, subjects given marijuana worked more hours than controls and turned in an equal number of tokens for cash at the study’s completion. 75
However, in a Canadian study that required subjects in the marijuana group to consume unusually high doses, some reduction in work efficiency was noted in the days following intoxication. 76
Undoubtedly, when marijuana is used in a way that produces near-constant intoxication, other activities are 1ikely to be neglected.
However, the weight of scientific evidence suggests that there is nothing in the pharmacological properties of cannabis that alter people’s attitudes, values, or abilities regarding work.