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The Marijuana Amotivational Syndrome

A Review of The Research of William Slikker, Jr.


"Amotivational Syndrome" was hypothesized as a long term effect of marijuana use -- that is, it was supposed to be an effect which occured among people who smoke pot, not when they were stoned, but all the time. Various studies were done to try to find "Amotivational Syndrome." Some claimed success. Others claimed that there was no such animal. But there was one trend: the more successful studies were done on young persons.

Slikker, Paule, et al. set out to find the effects of marijuana smoke on the brain, memory, learning, and motivation. They found that monkees who smoked even just on weekends did not develop normal clinical motivation -- defined by the willingness to work for reward. The studies concentrated on adolescense specifically for this reason, and were extremely well controlled.

Does this mean that kids who smoke marijuana are lazy? Probably not. Rhesus monkees are very similar to humans, though, and it is very likely, especially given the previous empirical evidence, that smoking marijuana during adolescense will temporarily impair specific types of motivational development. The effect is permanantly reversible and normal motivational development can be obtained by a 3-12 month period of abstinance (in monkeys -- no time period for humans is available.)

Slikker did not find "amotivational syndrome" but something less severe which may be at the root of the common perception that marijuana smokers are lazy. This is a good thing because it gives us a better argument *against* the existance of full blown amotivational syndrome. Among the other things Slikker found which we can be very excited about was no brain or cellular damage, an actual stimulation of brain cell development by marijuana smoking (which would fit with the current knowlege of increased alpha wave activity and blood flow while stoned), no permanant effects on memory or mental capacity, and lots of good reasons why marijuana should be more thoroughly researched rather than feared.

So instead of being so defensive, read the study -- it is very useful.


``Chronic Marijuana Smoke Exposure in the Rhesus Monkey IV Neurochemical Effects and Comparison to Acute and Chronic Exposure to Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in Rats'' by Syed F. Ali, Glenn D. Newport, Andrew C. Scallet, Merle G. Paule, John R. Bailey, William Slikker Jr in ``Pharmacology, Biochemistry & Behavior'' Vol. 40 pp. 677-682. 1991.

``Behavioral, Neurochemical, and Neurohistological Effects of Chronic Marijuana Smoke Exposure in the Nonhuman Primate'' by William Slikker Jr. et al. in ``Marijuana Cannabinoids Neurobiology and Neurophysiology'' Laura Murphy, Andrzej Bartke ed. pub. CRC Press Boca Raton, FL, 1992.

``Chronic Marijuana Smoke Exposure in the Rhesus Monkey II Effects on Progressive Ratio and Conditioned Position Responding '' by Merle G. Paule, Richard R. Allen, John R. Bailey, Andrew C. Scallet, Syed F. Ali, Roger M. Brown, William Slikker Jr. in ``The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.'' Vol. 260 pp. 210-222. ed. pub.

``Up in Smoke Arkansas Study Raises Doubts About Marijuana Risks '' by Mara Leveritt in ``Arkansas Times'' pp. 11-12. September 16, 1993.


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