Social distancing got you down? Well, you’re not alone.
A recent survey by Blind showed 53% of 10,107 professionals reported their productivity levels have been impacted by an increase in loneliness, anxiety, and other changes in mental health since working from home.
For cannabis enthusiasts, there are two ways to handle this: vibe it away on a Friday night, or use cannabis to boost your productivity and sharpen your awareness.
Yes, we did just say cannabis can make you more productive.
More on that later. First, let’s review:
Cannabis strains are the variations cultivators around the world have made to the cannabis plant through crossbreeding. There are thousands of identified strains on the market today, but most of them fall under one of three categories – indica, sativa, and hybrid.
While there’s very little science backing up the idea that cannabis strains affect people in different ways, the belief among most cannabis users is that indica is best for producing the classic, eat-all-your-food-and-fall-down-in-bed high. There’s even a mnemonic device for remembering which strain-type produces maximum chill: “indica equals in da couch.”
Hybrids, on the other hand, are marketed as having a mixed effect – relaxing your body while uplifting your mood. Their effect may lean to one side or the other depending on which (if any) strain is dominant, which is why vendors label hybrids as either indica-dom, sativa-dom, or balanced.
That leaves sativa, which (you guessed it) is commonly associated with an overall sense of well-being, or “mind high.”
It’s also said to make you more energetic. That’s where the productivity part comes in.
A 67% upvoted Reddit post asking about the effects of sativa sparked over 20 comments by users claiming to have used sativa as a pump-up before workouts, a creative “buzz,” and a morning pick-me-up.
Sean McSweeney, a Seattle-based biomedical researcher, uses sativa for productivity on a regular basis. While he doesn’t mix his weed with work, he says sativa strains help him make the most of his days off.
“There’s never a day wasted with a good sativa,” McSweeney told GreenState. “Sativa strains give me the perfect, uplifting, energetic mood for my day off. They make chores more enjoyable, and once I’m through my chores for the day, I can relax with the creativity that’s unhinged from them, so I’ll typically write for a bit or practice my guitar.”
But even though the idea that sativa can be used to increase productivity is widely accepted among cannabis vendors and consumers, the medical community is less onboard. Based on the ever-growing number of reports of false strain labeling in the cannabis industry, many health professionals say that any effect the consumer perceives as coming from a certain strain is placebo, or the subjective reaction of the individual.
Dr. Leigh Vinocur, a practicing physician and a spokesperson for the Society of Professional Cannabis Clinicians, falls somewhere in the middle on this issue.
“People have been arguing about the categorization of cannabis since the 1700’s,” Vinocur told GreenState. “Even way back then, they noticed that indica tended to make people sleepier than sativa. But strains were much more clear-cut in those days. I fully believe that there are differences in how different cannabis plants effect people, but strain categorization is so muddy today that I don’t think strains are the reason for it, or at least not the only reason.”
Vinocur explained that most medical cannabis professionals agree that terpenes, chemovars, THC levels over 0.03%, and even the state where the cannabis is grown impact the effect of cannabis products, and may be the cause of the differing effects people attribute to strains.
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She acknowledged, though, that there is not enough research on the subject to say conclusively what causes the vastly diverse effects of cannabis, and that, in all likelihood, there won’t be enough research on the subject as long as recreational marijuana use is illegal in the United States.
Vinocur also raised the possibility that what people – particularly those with anxiety disorders – perceive as an energy boost might really just be the anxiety-reducing powers of weed.
In 2016, a study published by Frontiers in Pharmacology showed many adult patients performed tasks requiring executive function better after using medical marijuana for three months than they ever had previously. In their report, the researchers cited decreased anxiety caused by marijuana use as one of the most likely reasons for this unexpected phenomenon.
Though she doesn’t believe the effect to be caused by any particular strain, Vinocur said she has seen boosts in cognitive functioning among her patients, too.
“The sedating effects of cannabis in general can help with anxiety,” Vinocur told GreenState. “In my practice, I’ve noticed that people who can’t concentrate because their minds are racing – typically those with a lot of work to do, or students, or even those with ADD – say they get high to quiet their minds so they can focus. It makes sense – anxiety paralyzes you. So, for those who need to be more productive, I’d recommend trying a variety of good quality cannabis products and seeing which calms your mind the most.”
Elissa Esher is Assistant Editor at GreenState. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Guardian, Brooklyn Paper, Religion Unplugged, and Iridescent Women. Send inquiries and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.