Pot smokers actually are more chill than everyone else. Science says so.
According to a new study from Washington State University, consistent heavy cannabis use leads to “blunted stress reactivity.” In other words, stoners are more calm when it comes to handling stressors.
In the study, researchers recruited 80 people and divided them into two groups based on their cannabis use. One group consisted of people who used cannabis every day for at least the past year, while the other group consisted of people who didn’t use cannabis at all.
Then the researchers subjected half the people in each group to lab tests designed to cause anxiety, in order to measure their stress responses. The tests included dunking their hands in cold water for 45 to 90 seconds, counting backwards from 2,043 by increments of 17, and getting yelled at by the lab workers whenever the counted a wrong number. Meanwhile, the researchers also played for them a live video feed of their faces as they tried to do the counting.
The researchers subjected the other half of the people in each of the groups to stress-free “control” scenarios, such as dipping their hands in warm water, and counting from 1 to 25 without getting yelled at or watching a real time video of the test.
The idea behind these tests and the four groupings was to compare how cannabis consumers and their pot-free counterparts responded to stress. To analyze this, the researchers measured their levels of cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone, in the subjects’ saliva.
“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,” the researchers found. The subjects were also given the opportunity to evaluate what they perceived their stress levels to be, and still the habitual cannabis consumers were less stressed out than the non consumers.
Hence, even though the habitual cannabis consumers weren’t high at the time of the study, they were still more chill overall. While this might show that regular weed consumption can help lower stress reactivity and cortisol levels. However, it’s also possible that people who choose to consume cannabis regularly also have more relaxed personalities in general. Nonetheless, on the other hand, stress might also contribute to someone’s habitual cannabis use.
That said, if you’re using cannabis for stress relief, find a strain that has a more sedative, euphoric effect, rather than something too heady that could make you anxious. Also, be careful with dosage. In lower amounts, THC can help you relax and relieve stress, but in higher amounts it could do the opposite.