UM study reveals cannabis use among programmers

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Cannabis use is common among software programmers, even at work, a new study has found.

According to to study, conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan (UM), many software programmers use cannabis to stimulate their creativity and bring them in the zone.

The researchers say they based their study on anecdotal evidence that programmers were more likely to use cannabis at work.

For the study, UM researchers distributed a survey to more than 800 developers.

The UM researchers say their main motivation was the fact that drug testing policies are still common in the programming industry.

According to the researchers, drug testing policies could be contributing to hiring shortages for some jobs.

In the survey summary, the researchers said that the ban on cannabis in software engineering has contributed to the hiring shortage in the US government.

Purpose of the survey

The research team focused its analysis around four questions:

  • QR1-Usage: Do programmers use cannabis while programming? If yes, how many times?
  • RQ2-Context: In what contexts do programmers consume cannabis?
  • QR3-Motivation: Why do programmers use cannabis?
  • QR4-Perception: How do opinions on cannabis use programming vary among managers, employees, and students?

The researchers say that despite differences in perceived level of approval and visibility of cannabis, rates of use during programming were similar among employees, managers, and students.

According to the study, 35% of participants had used cannabis while programming software or performing other related tasks, and more than 70% of them admitted to having used it in the past year.

While 53% said they used cannabis while programming more than ten times, 27% admitted to using it at least twice a week.

Four percent reported daily use of cannabis at work.

Why use cannabis and program

Researchers say that about 30% of respondents indicated that they used cannabis for wellness reasons.

The researchers point out that while wellness inspired cannabis use during programming, it was not the primary motivation.

When asked why they chose to use cannabis, programmers said it made programming tasks more enjoyable and helped them design creative solutions.

“We find that cannabis use while coding is more often driven by perceived improvement in coding-related skills than by medical reasons,” the report states. “This aligns with perceptions of a subset of college students and youth that cannabis use may enhance creativity or cognitive performance.”

According to the UM researchers, the most common tasks among cannabis-using programmers were coding, testing, prototyping and brainstorming.

Although cannabis was the focus of the study, the researchers say there may be other psychotropic substances, such as psychedelics, that interact with programming.

The researchers say they hope their work will inspire research focused on programming and mind-altering substances from multiple perspectives, such as corporate drug policies, programming productivity, and socio-technical considerations.


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