Findings from a recent study by Florida International University challenge the common stereotype that there is a link between cannabis use and reduced motivation among adolescents.

The study used longitudinal methods to measure cannabis use and motivations of 401 adolescents aged 14-17 through five bi-annual assessments – meaning data was collected over two-and-a-half years.

The authors noted: “We assessed motivation at three timepoints using two self-report questionnaires: the Apathy Evaluation Scale and the Motivation and Engagement Scale (disengagement, persistence, planning, self-efficacy, and valuing school subscales).”

Published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, the results show that, on average, participants’ use of cannabis increased significantly over time, but motivation remained stable.

While the study highlighted that cannabis use was associated with greater disengagement, lower planning, and lower valuing of school, when controlled for the effect of sex, age, depression and use of alcohol and nicotine, only the association between cannabis use and valuing school remained significant.

Meaning, the overall finding of the study is that the results do not support a prospective link between cannabis use and reduced motivation among adolescents, although school became less valued. The authors said this may contribute to poorer educational and later-life outcomes.

While the study does not support a link between cannabis use and reduction in motivation over time, the team said future research should continue to examine these associations longitudinally. This would further aid in understanding the link between adolescent cannabis use and motivation.