In a world where “going to school” often involves listening to lectures in sweatpants from your own bedroom, it can be difficult to find the motivation to study. Frankly, it can be difficult to find the motivation to migrate five feet from your bed to your desk just to open Zoom on your laptop.
Surprisingly, smoking weed can help.
For many college students and professionals alike, studying can be boring, tedious, or downright stressful. So what do you do when you have three online exams to cram for and you're feeling super unproductive? Rather than reaching for yet another iced coffee, consider reaching for a joint — or whatever method you like to use to get stoned.
How weed can help you focus
If you're dreading studying but know you have to, improving your mood by getting stoned may be an easy way to get started. According to Dr. Adie Rae, a neuroscientist and scientific adviser to Weedmaps, “Cannabis is well-known to cause positive changes in mood. This is typically called euphoria. There is a huge range of positive mood, from a subtle sense of ease all the way up to full-blown joy and elation. Where you'll fall on this spectrum depends a lot on your baseline mood state (how you feel before you smoke), the product you use, and the composition of your endocannabinoid system.”
In addition to being a mood booster, cannabis is known for its stress-reducing properties. In one study published by Psychopharmacology, cannabis consumers and non-consumers completed the same Maastricht Acute Stress Test and had their cortisol levels measured before and after. The cannabis users demonstrated a blunted reactivity to stress and their cortisol levels did not increase, suggesting that cannabis use may dull our reactions to stress.
Now, you may be thinking that getting stoned before studying will make you feel lazy and unproductive, despite any possible benefits. You're not alone – research in this area is seriously lacking, and some dated research suggests that weed can have negative effects on cognition. However, we know now that weed does not kill brain cells or make us dumber, and when used in moderation, it can possibly even offer some brain-protecting effects.
Many of the cannabinoids in cannabis — especially CBD and CBG, but THC as well — are actually neuroprotective, according to Rae. "That means they turn on healthy cellular processes like antioxidation, rather than stimulating the cellular processes that lead to cell death. Being neuroprotective is what makes cannabis and its derivatives attractive targets as therapies for degenerative brain disorders like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's,” she said.
Though there's little research on using weed as a study aid, there is enough anecdotal evidence out there to say that getting stoned can make studying easier and more pleasant for some, especially when done correctly, and unproductive and unhelpful for others.
How to get stoned the smart way
There are very few things in life that are not made more enjoyable by smoking weed. Reading and thinking deeply, both of which are important when studying, are some of my favorite stoned activities. The key to using weed as a study aid is not to overdo it. Before you pack the bong and crack open that textbook, it's important to find the right dosage and delivery method for maximum productivity. Weed affects everyone differently, and finding the perfect buzz for you may require a bit of trial and error.
The way you consume cannabis can have a major impact on how productive your high will be. Edibles and concentrates with high THC levels, for example, may be more potent for some consumers and too intense for a chill study smoke sesh. Smoking flower or vaping are likely better suited for studying because you can better control your dosage.
Microdosing is another option, which consists of consuming a small, controlled amount of THC in order to experience the benefits of cannabis without the full body high. Some companies make products specifically for this purpose, like Mr. Moxey's ginger-flavored mints with a 5:1 ratio of CBD to THC. Adding CBD to the mix when studying may be helpful to avoid becoming too high to function. In addition to being used to reduce the symptoms of pain, inflammation and anxiety, CBD appears to minimize some of THC's less desirable effects, such as paranoia and impaired thinking.
Thalia, a 23-year-old nutrition student attending college remotely, said she likes to achieve the entourage effect when studying while stoned. “Usually, I prefer to consume a lot of CBD with dashes of THC. I like smoking when the subject is really boring to me, it helps me find it more interesting and I focus for longer.”
She warned that getting too stoned while trying to study can be a challenge, especially with certain subjects. “I also don't like to be high when starting to learn a new subject. It's best for me when I'm trying to review stuff and get a different perspective.”
The best strains for studying
The bottom line is that getting stoned is a highly subjective experience. Whether you want to get dumb stoned so you can stop stressing about chemistry, or you want to a little jolt of motivation to read 100 pages of dense material, here are some strains that can help you get shit done.
A classic for good reason, Blue Dream is a sativa-dominant hybrid that can make nearly any activity more enjoyable — and studying is no exception. Many describe the high as being uplifting and relaxing, but also as cerebral and invigorating.
Named after its original breeder, CBD-enthusiast Laurence Ringo, Ringo's Gift is loaded with a CBD content of nearly 10% and typically has less than 7% THC. This strain is especially great for individuals with a low tolerance to THC, or those who simply want to chill out without an intense body high.
Sometimes compared to espresso, Durban Poison is a sativa that packs a serious punch. Not only is it reported to improve your overall mood and help you focus, it's also said to help you become more awake and alert.
Sometimes, being able to focus requires serious relaxing and de-stressing first. Having 18% THC, it's no surprise that Sour Diesel produces a euphoric and sometimes dreamlike high perfect for defeating procrastination anxiety.
If you're anything like I was in college, you may need a heavy-hitter to get yourself stoned enough to find studying tolerable, sometimes even interesting. Jack Herer is a go-to hybrid for those who need an extra kick each day to focus, absorb information, and master any subject.
Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps