Does Cannabis Really Make You More Creative?

Weed and creativity seem to be synonymous with each other. In fact, famous musicians, artists, and writers throughout history have been known to use cannabis as a way of enhancing their creativity. If you look back at popular culture throughout the years, you’ll start to sense a common theme of musicians or artists smoking a joint while working their magic over the last several decades, before legalization was upon us.

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Even ordinary people like to use cannabis to help them think a little more creatively, so it seems there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that our favorite plant can get our creative juices flowing. But is that anecdotal evidence backed up by science? Or are users just too high to realize their weed-inspired ideas aren’t really that original? Perhaps a more important question to ask is, are creative people more drawn to cannabis compared to the rest of the population?

What Is Creativity?

The human mind contains infinite complexities and not everything about how our brains work is understood by science. But we do know enough that we can simply define creativity as making new connections between different parts of the brain. In other words, it’s about coming up with new solutions, ideas, and inventions.

But creativity doesn’t involve simply coming up with a few good ideas and then waiting for the accolades to come rolling in. A large part of being creative is actively pursuing new ideas. Further, creativity also means being able to carry these ideas to fruition in whatever field one works in. This means that the gratification from creativity comes from good old fashioned hard work.

Your personality can also have an effect on how creative you are. While everyone is creative to a certain degree, whether they think they are or not, some are more creative than others. Those who are dripping with creativity tend to have similar personalities. For example, these people are open to new and unique experiences. They’re able to leave their comfort zone and try new things. Further, highly creative people tend to have high intellectual curiosity. They want to learn more about the world around them and often have multiple interests at any given time.

Cannabis and Creativity

Cannabis and Dopamine

So where does cannabis fit into creativity? There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that there is evidence that cannabis does increase one’s creative thinking by helping with our divergent thinking. This is the ability to create new ideas and find new solutions. Divergent thinking isn’t linear and doesn’t follow a prescribed set of steps to reach a conclusion or solve a problem. Rather, divergent thinking is more similar to brainstorming and seeing things in a variety of different ways. Part of this is accomplished by cannabis releasing the neurochemical dopamine, which causes that calm, feel-good, euphoric feeling in users. This allows the brain to turn off that inner-critic that seems to repress new ideas, whether consciously or subconsciously. It also presents the user from overthinking too much, which can awaken the inner-critic that lives in all of us.

The bad news is that studies have shown that divergent thinking starts to suffer as the user increases their cannabis use or increases their THC dose. The reason for these results is currently not understood.

Another theory about why cannabis seems to foster a creative spirit in many users is that it’s simply relaxing. When relaxed, we can let our minds wander, allowing all those ideas swirling around us to take shape and eventually turn into something unique. Our brains become much more receptive to new ideas when we’re not running around and stressed out from working the daily grind.

Does The Type Of Cannabis Matter?

Illustration of Woman Painting Surrounded by Buds

Typically, cannabis strains that give users a “head high” (think: sativa) can make users feel more creative. But everyone is different, so while sativa might make you feel more creative, indica might be the best strain for your friend. Further, cannabis is composed of hundreds of different compounds that work together that can affect how you feel. For example, the different terpenes your cannabis can also affect your creativity. This means there is no one strain of cannabis that’s proven to increase creativity because everyone’s brain works a little differently and reacts differently to cannabis.

If high THC cannabis makes you feel a little anxious, then try a strain with 50% THC and 50% CBD. CBD is a cannabinoid that is known to counteract anxiety caused by THC.

Aside from the strain of cannabis you use, the amount you use can affect your levels of creativity. Studies have shown that regular cannabis users, and those who use cannabis with high levels of THC, actually find a decrease in creativity. There’s no clear explanation about why this happens and like everything else in life, moderation is important.

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More Studies Needed

The connection between cannabis and creativity is a complex topic that needs more studies to learn more about how the two are related. Since cannabis is currently illegal at the federal level in the United States, cannabis and its effects have been difficult to study. Once the laws change, however, researchers will be able to dive into this subject in much more detail.