THC makes rats super lazy, according to a UBC study

Aug 23 2016, 3:23 pm

Good news, everyone: science is backing up what we already knew about weed.

Apparently THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) makes rats very, very lazy and less willing to perform cognitively demanding tasks, according to a new UBC study.

So basically, you’re not lazy, it’s just all the drugs you’re doing.

Researchers took 29 rats and gave them the option to do an easier task for a smaller reward or a more difficult task for a larger reward. When they weren’t stoned, they usually challenged themselves for the bigger reward – something delicious and sugary – but when they were high, they always chose the easier option, despite getting a smaller treat.

“Perhaps unsurprisingly, we found that when we gave THC to these rats, they basically became cognitively lazy,” says Mason Silveira, the study’s lead author, in a release. “What’s interesting, however, is that their ability to do the difficult challenge was unaffected by THC. The rats could still do the task— they just didn’t want to.”

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When the rats were given another ingredient in pot called cannabidiol – which is the chemical thought to be beneficial in treating pain, epilepsy, and cancer – there was no effect on the rats’ willingness to do difficult tasks, as it doesn’t have psychoactive properties. What stunned researchers, however, was that CBD didn’t block the so-called “negative” effects of THC (“negative” depending on who you ask, of course).

This was surprising, as it had been suggested that high concentrations of CBD could modulate or reduce the negative effects of THC,” says Catharine Winstanley, an associate professor in UBC’s department of psychology, in a release. “Unfortunately, that did not appear to be the case.”

The study authors say more research is needed to understand the effects of weed and to find out how to block the “less desirable” cognitive effects of THC while still allowing CBD to have medically beneficiary qualities.

Lauren SundstromLauren Sundstrom

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