Cannabis has a reputation of inspiring thought-provoking revelations and allowing one to think in ways they hadn’t before which is the reason cannabis and creativity have always gone together.
I can certainly recall more than a few times where my friends and I have passed a joint around under a star-filled sky, spewing mediocre philosophy about the meaning of life. Musicians often credit marijuana as sparking them to pick memorable guitar riffs or pound out a driving drum-fill. And artists and other creative-types have no problem sharing how they enjoy weed.
All of this begs the question, does this naturally growing plant have the ability to get the creative gears of the mind turning, or is it all a myth? Can a joint help you think outside of the box? Does cannabis and creativity really go together?
Contrary to popular belief, getting stoned out of your mind doesn’t necessarily increase creativity (sorry!).
A 2015 study conducted by Leiden University found that a high dosage (22mg) of THC decreased divergent thinking (being able to think of multiple different answers to a loosely defined problem). On the other hand, a low dose of THC (5.5mg) increased divergent thinking.
This study suggests that dosage plays an important role in determining whether cannabis will hurt or help with divergent thinking. This means various strains will have different effects on creativity, if any.
What if you could pack a bowl and then write a great novel? Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work that way. The effects of marijuana on an individual’s creativity appear to be somewhat dependent upon the individual’s creativity while sober.
A study performed by Shafer et al. identified two groups of participants. One was deemed to be uncreative while the other had high levels of creativity. The two groups were tested on verbal fluency (give as many responses linked to a given letter in 60 seconds) and category fluency (give as many verbal responses linked to a given concept category in 60 seconds) and given Mednick’s Remote Associates Test (give one word that links three given words; 4 minutes given for each of the 16 word triads on the test).
The tests were first administered to the groups while they were sober to obtain a baseline and then were administered again six days later while the groups were high.
While they were high, the low creativity group increased their scores on the verbal fluency test to the scores of the high creativity group. The other two tests did not show any changes.
The high creative group did not score any better on any of the tests, suggesting that marijuana has the potential to increase creativity in people who usually aren’t creative but may not have drastic effects on those who are already creative.
Weed may not be a dependable way to inspire a specific type of creativity, though, many people do report an anecdotal opening of the brainwaves. Further research on its effects is definitely needed. Perhaps future studies will better illustrate the effects of various cannabinoids on thought processes and creativity.