A new study has confirmed what cartoons always told us to be true: that the roach-toking, pot-smoking bong rats of the world are, in fact, more chill than the rest of us.
While this may seem like a ‘Pope is catholic’, ‘bear shits in the woods’ kind of statement, it’s worth pointing out that the literature on the subject has in the past coughed up some pretty mixed conclusions. Certain studies have shown that higher amounts of THC, in a single dose, actually tend to make an anxiety-inducing situation more stressful.
But what about the long-term, ‘recreational’ users?
Washington State University recently set out to examine the effects of regular, heavy cannabis use on the mental state and composure of the individual. To do this, researchers recruited a total of 80 people – half of whom had used marijuana every day for the past year (the stoners), half of whom didn’t classify as marijuana users (the squares) – and subjected them to a handful of lab tests.
Half of each group, stoners and squares, were faced with a purposely stressful task: they had to dunk their hands in a container of cold water for 45 to 90 seconds, and then count backwards from 2,043 by increments of 17. Participants were shown a live video feed of their faces as they attempted to count. Every time they got an answer wrong they’d be verbally abused by lab workers.
The other half of each group was subjected to a not-so-stressful control scenario, in which they simply had to dip their hand in warm water and count upwards to 25. There was no video feed and no penalty for error.
Immediately after the tests, researchers compared the levels of cortisol – that is, the stress hormone – in the saliva of participants. What they discovered was that the stoners apparently kept their cool and composure much more effectively than their relatively highly-strung counterparts, the squares.
“Despite abstaining from cannabis use on the day of testing, cannabis users exhibited no increase in salivary cortisol concentration in response to the stress manipulation compared to non-users” researchers found.
Conclusion? That hitting billies on the reg may very well lead to a more relaxed disposition and outlook. These findings add some merit to what is oft cited as the number one reason for why people elect bud as their drug of choice: namely, for relaxation.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Editor’s note: this article has been updated to include the point about THC’s negative effects in stressful situations
Source: Toronto Star
Feature image: Merry Jane