The Lazy Pothead Myth: How Science and Celebrities Prove it’s False

Article by Emily Earlenbaugh, Herb Approach

The Lazy Pothead Myth: How Science and Celebrities Prove it’s False By Emily Earlenbaugh.  4. Carl Sagan

The ‘lazy pothead’ is a myth that most cannabis users have had to struggle with. The unfortunate misconception is that using marijuana will leave you lazy, unmotivated, and detached from life. The story is often repeated, by politicians arguing against drug reform, by parents warning their children about the evils of pot, and on television shows and movies portraying stoners as bumbling and hopeless characters, who seem both unable and uninterested in doing much at all. In these representations, a pothead is pictured sitting on couches, smoking and snacking throughout the day. Maybe they have a low paying job that they are shown performing poorly. We’ve all seen these images, and many assume this is just one negative side effect that comes from smoking weed. But the big question is, is this story actually true?

According to the scientific research, no. This myth is absolutely false.

While cannabis can leave new or occasional users feeling tired and less than functional, during the time it is being used, this isn’t usually the case with those who use the substance regularly. When scientists started to actually study this phenomena, to see if cannabis really left people unmotivated and the lazy pothead, they were unable to find differences in the motivation levels of users and non-users of cannabis. Both groups performed equally well when being tested for motivation.

What they did find was that 31% of people who use cannabis were doing so because they have medical conditions that are tied to lower motivation. This may help explain some of where the myth may have come from. Some might see people in their lives who both have lower motivation, and use cannabis, and think that the cannabis is causing this. In fact, it is actually chronic pain or fatigue conditions that are leaving patients unable to do as much, and cannabis is something they use to help manage their symptoms.

Despite this correlation between cannabis use and conditions that affect motivation, cannabis users are far from the unsuccessful stoners that the media makes them out to be. In a recent study out of California by BDS analytics, researchers compared the success of those who use cannabis, with those who don’t. The myth-busting results? Compared to non-users, a “pothead” were more successful in terms of their salary, their life satisfaction, and their educational attainment. They were more social, more likely to be parents, more likely to spend time outdoors and more likely to do volunteer work. This isn’t exactly the picture of a lazy or unmotivated person.

This research makes sense of the many powerful and brilliant people who have made important, lucrative and culture-shifting careers, despite their cannabis use. If the research doesn’t convince you. Here are 7 real-life brilliant celebrities that prove the lazy stoner myth wrong.

1. Bill Gates

The Lazy Pothead Myth: How Science and Celebrities Prove it’s False By Emily Earlenbaugh. 1. Bill Gates

Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, is an American business magnate, investor, author, and philanthropist. With an $88.3 billion dollar net worth, he is one of the riches people on earth. Between his massive tech empire and his incredible philanthropic work, it would be hard to say the Gates is unmotivated or a lazy pothead. And yet, Gates has been known to use cannabis. In the book “How Microsoft’s Mogul Reinvented an Industry – And Made Himself the Richest Man in America.” biographer Stephen Manes explained “As for drugs – well, Gates was certainly not unusual there. Marijuana was the pharmaceutical of choice.”

2. Justin Trudeau

The Lazy Pothead Myth: How Science and Celebrities Prove it’s False By Emily Earlenbaugh. Justin joins Brian Gallant, NB Liberal Party Leader, on the camp. Justin et Brian Gallant, le chef du Parti libéral du nouveau-Brunswick, font un arrêt dans un Tim Hortons à Moncton 23 août 2014.

If there was ever a good example of a motivated and successful politician, it is Justin Trudeau, Canada’s second youngest Prime Minister in history. Trudeau has also admitted to using cannabis. He says that his last toke was about three years ago, at his house in Montreal. “We had a few good friends over for a dinner party” he recounted. “Our kids were at their grandmother’s for the night, and one of our friends lit a joint and passed it around. I had a puff.”

3. Oprah Winfrey

The Lazy Pothead Myth: How Science and Celebrities Prove it’s False By Emily Earlenbaugh. 3. Oprah Winfrey


Oprah Winfrey is best known as the television talk show host, for the award winning “Oprah Winfrey Show” and has accumulated a net worth of 3 billion dollars. While the successful host hasn’t used cannabis in 30 years, she did use cannabis back in the day, right around the time her genre-defining talk show first got started.

4. Carl Sagan

The Lazy Pothead Myth: How Science and Celebrities Prove it’s False By Emily Earlenbaugh.  4. Carl Sagan


Carl Sagan is a well known astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, and science popularizer. He wrote and published over 600 scientific papers, starred in a science themed television show, and even assembled the first physical messages sent into space: the Pioneer plaque and the Voyager Golden Record. Sagan was clearly an accomplished scientist, but he was also an outspoken cannabis supporter who used the plant himself. “The illegality of cannabis is outrageous,” Sagan once said “an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.” It’s safe to say he wasn’t a lazy pothead.

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