This isn’t a piece denigrating cannabis in any form, not by a long shot. It’s more of a jumble of thoughts about the holistic effects of marijuana use over a significantly long period of time. I mean sure, with a lot of people, you can just kind of tell that they like to partake, but I’m know you’ve come across at least a few high-functioning pot smokers in your life as well. This isn’t really about that, it’s about what effect long term marijuana use has on you emotionally.
When a person’s stoned, they tend to not really have an interest in situations that are too intense. I don’t speak for everybody, but that’s the general consensus. You feel laid-back, easy, connected with your fellow man even, but you don’t exactly turn into a pillar of emotional strength and availability.
Marijuana use and emotion processing have a somewhat strained relationship.
In fact, PLOS One published an entire paper about it, entitled An Event-Related Potential Study on the Effects of Cannabis on Emotion Processing, which is a bit of a mouthful. They performed behavioral studies on heavy, moderate and non-users of cannabis where participants were asked to identify emotional expressions. As faces on screen morphed from open mouthed to an expression, either positive (happy) or negative (fearful), the cannabis user’s accuracy and reaction time performance was impaired.
Basically, it found that heavy cannabis users had a hard time empathising with people experiencing different emotions.
Another paper published in Nature last year titled Cannabis and Tolerance: Acute Drug Impairment As A Function of Cannabis Use History, had a theory for why this occurs. Basically, when you smoke, the THC encourages the release of dopamine, the pleasure centre. Long term smoking means a long history of forced dopamine release, which means those neurons just don’t work as well they used to, leading to the kind of emotional responses listed above.
In the end, there’s still a lot of research that needs to be done, and no one’s asking you to put the bowl down, but maybe take a break sometimes. Let science figure that shit out… or not.