Written by in BlogNovember 3rd, 2011

In marijuana circles there is a prevailing thought that functional potheads actually exist. In fact, some people even admit that they seem to function better while they are high. So, let’s tackle both of these assumptions to see if they hold some merit.

First, I firmly believe that marijuana affects people in different ways. Some seem to like staying busy, such as cleaning the house, but most are glued to the couch and struggle to even pick their nose at times. Some people can apparently carry on conversations while others avoid any communication with the outside world. Finally, some people don’t even crave food, but others would eat sheetrock with the right seasoning. Why?

Obviously, they are processing cannabis differently due to the effect it has on the various cannabinoid regions of the brain. Is it possible that some people have more or less of these receptors in some of these regions causing an alteration in our experiences of being high? Dopamine, the “feel good” hormone, can be supplied in different amounts to people based upon the number of receptors available, causing a change in the overall effect. So, it seems logical that the “pot” receptors in the brain would be similar.

Unlike dopamine receptors, cannabinoid receptors are extremely abundant and are found in many regions within the brain. This is one of the reasons why our perceptions, balance, memory, and appetite can all be affected by marijuana.

I personally believe we all experience the somewhat functional state of being high for a period of time after that first toke. It’s just that this feeling goes away much quicker in some individuals before sinking into this non-functional condition. On the other hand, some people seem to maintain this feeling for longer periods. Once again, it’s all due to how, and possibly how fast, we process the chemicals from the marijuana we smoke.

However, what I am certain does not exist is the tenant that people function better while they are high versus when they are sober. While researching for my book, The Secret Addiction, study after study that examined the cognitive effects of marijuana overwhelmingly show that you are not going to drive better, solve math problems more easily, or make better decisions. The bottom line is that there are people who are more-functional potheads and some who are less-functional potheads, but I would never go as far as saying people function better when they are stoned.

5 Responses to “Do functional potheads really exist?”

  1. January 5th, 2012

    Rand Teed

    Functional Potheards are like functional alcoholics, there are some things that they seem to be able to do, many things (usually the things that the outside world does’n t see) don’t work very well.

    Much of this dysfunction is in the relationship area. One of the things that THC does is to dull our emotional response to things. We feel we are doing it to “feel better” what is generally happening is that we “feel less”

    To be human is to feel, blocking that is taking away some our our humanity.

    Rand Teed BA.,B.Ed., ICPS

  2. February 16th, 2012


    I have been smoking for 35 years,an ounce a week, can function better when high, own my own successful bus, it has not stopped me but I probably would have been better without it

  3. February 16th, 2012


    That’s the tricky thing about this drug. Some people can easily assimilate it into their life with only minor problems.

    Marijuana’s effect on the brain changes our perceptions. What we perceive as functioning better may simply be the weed distorting reality. If pot can make music, food, video games, and movies seem better, than it certainly can make us think we function better too.

    Most people do not quit because marijuana is destroying their lives, but rather they recognize that their life and relationships could be more fulfilled, successful, etc.

  4. April 13th, 2013


    I know quite a few people who function “well” while still smoking on a daily basis. But I have felt there is more to life than simply working and meeting our obligations as far as relationships and duties are concerned.
    In the same way there are different levels of functioning potheads, we all have a special purpose in life, and special talents to achieve that purpose.
    There is simply no way we can achieve that purpose if we are more in touch with something that is always altering our perception and judgement.
    If weed was something that connected with our purpose in life, wouldn’t our planet be filled with walking saints?
    I do not know what other people see out there, but I certainly know what I see!

  5. April 24th, 2013


    I have a Master’s degree, and am starting a PhD in a few months. I also made a decently-acclaimed documentary. I did all this while high as a kite, smoking weed all day, everyday! Could I have done it all without weed? I really don’t think so, it has allowed me to think outside the box and approach issues in a fresh way that my colleagues weren’t thinking about. Professionally, I believe smoking weed has helped me. But you guys are right about the relationships, I generally don’t like interacting with people while I’m high and don’t really care about maintaining the relationships I have, which is probably why I’m not as close to people I used to be and would consider myself a recluse of sorts.

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