The Science of Cannabis and Gaming: How Marijuana Affects Your Brain While Playing
- Video games and cannabis both offer ways to enhance reality. But does cannabis enhance video game performance?
- Studies on this topic have produced mixed results.
- The fact is, the effects of cannabis are highly dependent on strain and dosage.
- Several top pro gamers claim that cannabis improves performance prompting some pro game organizations to ban cannabis.
There are a few pastimes that can take your mind off of what’s going on in the world like playing a great video game. The best video games take us on exciting adventures and harrowing journeys that you just can’t experience in the real world.
For some people, cannabis has a way of making the real world a more exciting place to be. Combine the two — cannabis and gaming — and avid players are known to sit wide-eyed for hours on end playing their favorite games.
While most gamers play video games to escape and destress, some take it a little more seriously. Today competitive video gaming has become a massive “sport” with prize money in the millions of dollars. While the overall effects of cannabis aren’t as important for the player sitting at home on the couch, they can make or break a pro gamers career.
To toke or not to toke, that is the question?
There are two camps when it comes to the play-it-straight debate. Some gamers believe that cannabis improves their game while others feel that it throws them off their best game. The fact of the matter is that both camps are right.
For starters, cannabis is a complex herb, not a molecule. So unlike a prescription drug, cannabis can affect every player differently and in drastically different ways. Moreover, there are myriad strains with different combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes, each of which has its own set of effects.
Furthermore, the effects of cannabinoids such as THC follow what’s known as a bell curve. That means there’s actually an ideal dosage beyond which the effects can be quite different and even unpleasant.
For example. In small doses, THC is known to reduce anxiety, improve engagement, and concentration, and maybe even increase reaction times in some players. However, too much THC can drastically slow reaction time and reduce focus, not to mention make the user feel lethargic as the effects wear off. Moreover, higher levels of THC can make players anxious and even paranoid which is bound to throw off their game.
What this means is that cannabis is both a performance-enhancing drug and a performance-inhibiting drug depending on who’s using it, what strain their using, and how much of it they use.
If you’re just playing at home for entertainment purposes, then it doesn’t matter if you get a little too stoned one day and get shot out of the sky. However, for a pro gamer, increased or decreased performance can mean the difference between a life-changing paycheck or going back to flipping burgers.
Cannabis and pro gamers
Does anyone really believe that cannabis is a performance-enhancing drug? Many pro gamers that don’t use cannabis believe that it can, in some circumstances give a gamer an unfair advantage.
Several of the top pro gaming leagues have banned cannabis use. While some threaten contestants with random drug tests, others forbid the use of cannabis but don’t do anything to enforce the rule. Major League Gaming is an example of a pro gaming organization that prohibits the use of cannabis, but doesn’t drug test.
If you are considering becoming a professional gamer it’s a good idea to read up on the rules and procedures of the organization you’re considering joining.
What do the scientists say?
The typical stoner is often seen as unmotivated, intoxicated, and out of touch with reality. And some research shows that long-term excessive use of cannabis can, indeed, reduce motivation levels. Moreover, there have been several studies that suggest that marijuana can inhibit driving skills and reduce reaction time.
However, it’s important to point out that these studies weren’t done on professional race car drivers who are passionate about driving and highly skilled in maintaining focus.
There are also studies the results of which might contradict the stereotypes associated with cannabis. Several studies have shown that cannabinoids can help to keep the gamer brain in shape. Moreover, the results of a study that focused on athletes suggest that marijuana can improve concentration and vision and relax the body and mind.
But again, it all comes down to the individual, the strain, and the dosages.
Best marijuana strains for gamers
As we discussed, the effect that cannabis has on gamers depends greatly on the strain and dosage. However, for most pro gamers overconsumption before a big event is a no-no no matter what the strain is.
Two of the most important cannabinoids found in marijuana are CBD and THC. While THC is known for its intoxicating and uplifting effects, CBD is a non-psychotropic substance that won’t get you high. CBD is known for its antianxiety and body relaxing effects. Having some level of CBD in your weed can help to tame the edginess of a buzz for some users. However, CBD makes some people drowsy, especially in large doses.
With all of the breeding that’s been happening in the past few decades, the line is being blurred between indicas and sativas. However, gamer legend has it that strains in the pure sativa family are better for gaming than their indica counterparts. That being said, there are indica strains and sativa strains with nearly identical cannabinoid and terpene profiles, so one really has to do their research to find the ideal combination.
A few of the strains that have become popular among pro gamers include:
If your local marijuana dispensaries don’t carry these strains, explain to your budtender the purpose and intent and ask them to recommend strains with similar effects.
In closing, it can’t be overstressed that the effects of cannabis are highly dependent on physiology and dosage. Because of this, it can take some experimentation to find the ideal combination of cannabinoids and terpene
Medical Marijuana Links:
- Learn more about cannabinoids and terpenes.
- Learn more about the difference between sativa and indica.
- Learn more about cannabis and brain health.