Marijuana Use and "Amotivational Syndrome"

"One of the major concerns about the psychological effects of chronic heavy cannabis use has been that it impairs adult motivation. The evidence for an 'amotivational syndrome' among adults consists largely of case histories and observational reports (e.g. Kolansky and Moore, 1971; Millman and Sbriglio, 1986). The small number of controlled field and laboratory studies have not found compelling evidence for such a syndrome (Dornbush, 1974; Negrete, 1983; Hollister, 1986). The evidential value of the field studies is limited by their small sample sizes, and the limited sociodemographic characteristics of their samples, while the evidential value of the laboratory studies is limited by the short periods of drug use, the youthful good health of the volunteers, and minimal demands made on volunteers in the laboratory (Cohen, 1982). Some regular cannabis users report a loss of ambition and impaired school and occupational performance as adverse effects of their use (e.g. Hendin et al, 1987) and that some ex-cannabis users give impaired occupational performance as a reason for stopping (Jones, 1984). Nonetheless, it is doubtful that cannabis use produces a well defined amotivational syndrome. It may be more parsimonious to regard the symptoms of impaired motivation as symptoms of chronic cannabis intoxication rather than inventing a new psychiatric syndrome."


Hall, W., Room, R. & Bondy, S., WHO Project on Health Implications of Cannabis Use: A Comparative Appraisal of the Health and Psychological Consequences of Alcohol, Cannabis, Nicotine and Opiate Use, August 28, 1995 (Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, March 1998).