Let’s delve into the captivating relationship between cannabis and creativity. For thousands of years cannabis has been associated with free-flowing ideas, unconventional thinking, and artistic expression. While scientific evidence may be mixed, the allure of cannabis as a muse for creativity persists.

 

The Myth and the Legends

The idea that cannabis enhances creativity is intertwined with cultural narratives. Many thinkers, artists, and musicians attribute their creative breakthroughs to cannabis. Here are a few notable people who embraced cannabis as a catalyst for their creativity:

 

  • Bob Marley: The legendary reggae musician was an outspoken advocate for all things cannabis. His music, infused with messages of love, oneness, and social change, flowed from moments of introspection while consuming cannabis.
  • Louis Armstrong: The jazz icon was a well-known cannabis user. His trumpet melodies, improvisations, and soulful performances were greatly influenced by his relaxed state while consuming cannabis.
  • Steve Jobs: The co-founder of Apple famously experimented with cannabis during his college years. He credited it with enhancing his creativity and helping him to think differently – a mindset that shaped Apple’s innovative products.
  • Frida Kahlo: The Mexican artist known for her vibrant self-portraits, lived with chronic pain throughout her life. It gave her relief, and some speculate that it influenced her surreal and introspective art.

Bob Marley

Image Credit: Bill Fairs

“When you smoke the herb, it reveals you to yourself” 
                                                                                 -Bob Marley 

While there are many anecdotes, scientific research is ongoing. Some studies suggest low doses of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) enhances the ability to generate new and novel ideas, excessive THC can impair focus and hinder creativity. As we explore this topic, keep in mind that creativity is multi-faceted and individual experiences like creative expression are unique.  

 

Cannabis, the Brain, and Creativity 

The human brain is a complex canvas. Creativity takes shape in our frontal lobe – the region associated with executive functions. This pre-frontal cortex orchestrates higher order thinking, like reasoning, decision-making and yes, creativity. It’s where imagination meets logic, and novel concepts emerge. Imagine fireworks display as an explosion of ideas – our brain generates multiple solutions, by exploring tangents and a willingness to delve into the unknown to find creative solutions.  

“The best way I could describe the effect of the marijuana and hashish is that it would make me more relaxed and creative.”

                                                 -Steve Jobs  

The Frontal Lobe (shown in red) 

Credit: BodyParts3D, Copyrightc 2008 Life Sciences Integrated Database Center licensed by CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.1 Japan

So, where does cannabis come in?  

THC the psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis interacts with our body’s own endocannabinoid system which among other things, can temporarily increase blood flow to the frontal lobe of the brain altering neural activity and thus enhancing creative thinking. The challenge is finding the right balance. Too much THC can hinder our focus, while a low to moderate amount could unlock these free-flowing pathways. It’s a delicate balance and individual responses vary as cannabis is unique to each person. We’ll explore how to find this balance later in this article. 

 

The Creative High 

Perceptions of creativity are subjective. When it comes to creativity and cannabis, the experience is varied. Here’s two reasons why people may feel their creative juices flowing when they consume cannabis: 

  • The Altered State: Cannabis alters perception, heightening sensory experiences and shifting thought patterns. For some, this altered state opens doors to unconventional ideas, novel thought connections and unexplored areas of the imagination. 
  • Low Doses and Inspiration: Low does of cannabis (particularly THC) seems to play the key role. Rather than plunging into a mind-bending high, some find a gentle elevation enhances their creative flow. 
  • Enhanced focus: At low doses, focus sharpens, and distractions fade. This leaves the mind open for new ideas. 
  • Reduced Inhibition: Cannabis can quiet the inner critic – the voice that stifles creativity. You know that whisper that says “Why not try that? “What if?” 
  •  

“I smoke a lot of pot when I write music.” 
                                                     – Lady Gaga 

 

Cannabis Tolerance and Creativity: Navigating the Highs and the Lows 

Creativity is on a spectrum and so too are individual tolerance levels. Tolerance to cannabis is the gradual reduction in one’s response to cannabis after prolonged use. Regular consumers may find themselves developing a tolerance to some of cannabis’s effects, potentially diminishing its impact on creativity over time.   

The relationship between cannabis and creativity is multifaceted. While some experience heightened creativity, others may feel more relaxed or introspective with little or no noticeable spark of creativity. Dr. Lewis Nelson, chair of the department of emergency medicine and chief of the division of medical toxicology at Rutgers University says:  

“I can assure you that people who get a very high dose of THC won’t be creative. They’ll be very sleepy and very paranoid…low-dose cannabis in the right population would increase creativity.”  

The right population according to Dr. Lewis may be those who are not creative people to begin with. What we do know is that there is no dose of cannabis that can guarantee that creative spark. To find your balance – always Start Low and Go Slow. This means consume a small to moderate amount, see how you feel and then go from there.  

The following dosage chart by Dr. Dustin Sulak, Founder of Healer outlines how to start low and go slow.  

 

Source: www.healer.com

As well as understanding that lower doses of THC and knowing your tolerance level are important, other pieces of the puzzle include strain variations, and environment. A blend of cannabinoids (ie. THC, CBD), terpenes (organic aromatic compounds found in the plant), and flavonoids (colourful, natural compounds important for overall wellness) are recommended to maximize the benefits of cannabis. Known as the entourage effect, refers to the synergistic interaction between these elements. Together they optimize the qualities of the plant as compared to using just one.  

 

Some cannabinoid/terpene/flavonoid profiles are shown to promote creativity. THC is most likely to increase the type of thinking that leads to creative output. Plus, certain terpenes (particularly myrcene, caryophyllene and limonene) and flavonoids such as anthocyanins, also think blueberries, help people tap into their creativity. 

Cannabis plant containing the flavonoid anthocyanins. 

Sativa dominant hybrids are considered best creative strains/cultivars. A few known to enhance creativity include: 

 

  • Jack Herer: Named for the cannabis activist, this hybrid strain is great for creativity as it provides an uplifting, euphoric, and energizing effect. It’s a cross between Northern lights, Haze, and Shiva Skunk. The top terpenes are terpinolene, caryophyllene, pinene, myrcene and limonene, so it has a sweet fruity aroma with hints of pepper and spice. 
  • Tangie: A Dutch favourite, it blends California Orange with Skunk #1. A sativa dominant cultivar, the sweet terpene profile blends terpinolene, linalool, myrcene and pinene, with an aroma of peeled oranges and tangerine. Great for creativity because of its uplifting effects. 
  • Purple Haze: Named after Jimi Hendrik’s iconic song, it’s a cross of Purple Thai and Haze. The terpene profile of myrcene, caryophyllene and pinene creates sweet earthy notes with a hint of grape and berries. It produces an uplifting, energetic, motivating head high and becomes a relaxing experience, also great to spark creativity. 
  • Blue Dream: A cross of blueberry and Haze. A myrcene, pinene, and caryophyllene terpene profile has an aroma of sweet blueberry, with undertones of pine and fresh herbs. A classic, it creates a head high and a balanced body high promoting relaxation and enhances creativity. 
  • Sour Diesel: A cross of Chemdog 91 and Super Skunk it’s a sativa dominant hybrid. A mix of funky, citrus, and diesel aroma with earthy and gassy flavours resulting from a terpene profile of caryophyllene, myrcene and limonene. A surge of a cerebral stimulation helps people feel creative and energized. 

 

Sour Diesel Flower

                  Purple Haze Flower

Setting the Stage: The Cannabis, Environment and Mindset Connection 

Set and setting, our physical surroundings and mental backdrop also shape our creative experiences. The setting, our physical and social surroundings influence our mental flow. Picture a cozy nook, sunlight streaming through the window, maybe soft music playing. This type of environment induces creativity for many people. Novelty and familiarity – sometimes a change of scenery, away from your familiar environment can spark new ideas. For some, comfort breeds creativity. Try experimenting with to find your cannabis creative place. Mood also matters. Your expectations play a pivotal role. If we believe cannabis will ignite our imagination, it just might. The power of suggestion helps shape our creative experiences. What do you anticipate? Positive emotion, and curiosity often amplify creative thinking. 

The relationship between cannabis and creativity is a complex one. While some studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that cannabis enhances creative thinking by promoting relaxation and a different way of thinking, the effects of cannabis can vary greatly depending on the person, the context and the cultivar consumed. Ultimately creativity is influenced by many factors, and we are still learning as studies continuously uncover new understanding.  

If you this article and are looking for a great strain, check out our online shop or one of our cannabis-themed live events, at our event center on Lundy’s lane. 

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