Have you ever noticed that stoners have a particular kind of strut? You’re not just imagining that — they actually do. According to a new study, cannabis really can give you a conspicuous pep in your step.
Conducted at the University of South Australia and published in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, the study found subtle differences in the way cannabis consumers and non-consumers “ambulate,” or walk. According to the study, people who smoke weed have “increased angular velocity of the knee during walking gait” and “exhibit reduced shoulder flexion during walking gait.” In other words, cannabis consumers have a greater likelihood than non-consumers of swinging their knees quickly and having flexible elbows. The study also found that tokers move their shoulders less than non-tokers, however both groups walk at about the same speed.
“Illicit drugs exert their effects by changing the levels of neurotransmitters in the ‘pleasure centers’ of the brain, but these neurotransmitters are also very important in movement,” says Verity Pearson-Dennett, a research assistant at the University of South Australia. “It is therefore possible that these drugs may impact the way we move.”
However, these changes in movements are often too subtle for most people to notice. To conduct the study, the researchers solicited 44 people between the ages of 18 and 49. Half of them were cannabis users. The tokers and non-tokers were split into two groups and analyzed through a motion capture system that looked at their gait and balance.
The researchers pointed out that most of the cannabis consumers in the group were moderate to light tokers, noting that heavier users might have more noticeable differences in their ambulation.
“The results suggest that history of cannabis use is associated with long-lasting changes in open-air chain elements of walking gait, but the magnitude of change is not clinically detectable,” the authors wrote. “Further research is required to investigate if the subtle gait changes observed in this population become more apparent with aging and increased cannabis use.”