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Cannabis and Creativity

Whether you use cannabis to unwind after a long day or to stimulate the senses, there’s no denying its effect on the body and mind. But for those that want to turn that heady high into something a little more productive, it’s true that cannabis and creativity go hand in hand. After all, musicians, artists and writers have been using cannabis to gain perspective and provide an alternate way of looking at things for decades, if not centuries and millennia.

Today, there are countless cannabis connoisseurs that like to encourage exploration and their thought processes in different ways. And while some may spend their time searching for the best strains for creativity and focus, others may find that they’re generally more creative and focused when they’re high, and that may be all the evidence that they need.

How Cannabis Enhances Creativity

For most people, cannabis and creativity is just something that happens when you consume cannabis. But there’s actually some science behind how cannabis can make you more creative, and it has to do with what happens to that THC once it enters the bloodstream. 

According to research, cannabis induces creativity by increasing the cerebral blood flow to the brain’s frontal lobe. The frontal lobe is situated directly behind the forehead, and it’s responsible for our cognition, language and emotional expression, among other functions. In that sense, it can be thought of as what controls our personality and our expression thereof, which are some of the central tenets of being creative.

Compared to those who may not be creative, highly creative people often have more activity in the frontal lobe when engaging in creative tasks. And since cannabis increases blood flow in this important area, there’s no wonder that users often report feeling more creative after consuming cannabis.

Thinking Different

Scientists often refer to creativity as thinking differently. If most people think of things in a predictable way, the creative person bucks the trend and introduces something new that can help expand our knowledge and give us a new way of seeing old things. Whether it’s through brainstorming or another tactic, creatives are simply more likely to come up with out-of-the-box ideas.

In practice, cannabis and creativity is something that relies on this distinction. Bringing together disparate things in a new and novel way is the hallmark of creatives, and cannabis can bring that divergent thinking out, especially if you’re feeling stuck or stumped. Even with a limited number of possibilities, cannabis can help you creatively think of new connections that you wouldn’t recognize otherwise, and that kind of creativity can help you in your personal, professional and creative lives.

Less Is More

However, when it comes to cannabis and creativity, less is more. Studies have shown that while cannabis can help creativity — there is a point of not just diminishing returns, but it can actually start to work against your creativity, if not your willingness and your ability to stay focused on the task at hand. 

In one such study, low doses on the order of 5mg of THC were shown to be more helpful in inducing creativity than larger doses of over 20mg of THC, though at the higher end creativity actually suffered. That might explain why that song you started after a hit or two was so full of promise but after a night of smoking the will and focus quickly waned. 

Boosting Low Creativity

Another study in the cannabis and creativity story split up participants into two groups: those that were highly creative and those that were seen to have low creativity. Testing the participants both sober and under the influence, they found that the creativity of so-called highly creative individuals remained relatively intact. In fact, creativity was seen to have dropped a bit, which may actually make the case for abstaining for those that are already highly creative.

On the other hand, for those with low creativity, cannabis actually helped bolster their creativity substantially, even to the point of equaling the creativity of the highly creative group when both were under the influence. While creativity may still have been higher for highly creative individuals over the intoxicated creativity of both groups, cannabis seems to have the biggest impact on those that had trouble being creative in the first place. 

A Personal Decision

That said, using cannabis to enhance creativity remains a highly personal decision. Some highly creative people love using cannabis to expand their minds and their horizons while others may easily get lost and lose focus after becoming intoxicated. Some of it may have to do with the dosing — with lower doses being better for creativity — but since creativity is such a highly personal thing, it’s impossible to definitively say that cannabis and creatively have little or much to do with one another.

What is clear is that those that use cannabis often report feeling more creative and being open to new and different experiences. It could be a simple function of self-selection ruling the day, though we may never know if creatives tend to seek out cannabis or cannabis makes one more creative.


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