A variety of substances, from alcohol to opium, have been praised by various artists and writers as the inspiration for their work. Artists like Bob Marley and Lady Gaga have linked their creative process to their cannabis consumption, but is cannabis really a key to their creativity? Yes and no, depending on how you ask the question.
Some people feel more free and relaxed when they consume cannabis, making them more able to embrace the creative process. Cannabis can also help people focus better on the task at hand, such as painting or song writing, allowing them to be more productive than they might have without the assistance of cannabis.
Research Shows Spike in Creativity with Cannabis Consumption
In addition to all of these surface level benefits, studies are finding a potential link between cannabis and creativity. One of the first studies on the subject, conducted back in the 1970s, found that cannabis was linked to more original thoughts. More recent studies have highlighted tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most plentiful active cannabinoid in marijuana, as the crux for an increase in creativity.
A study from University College in London found that cannabis consumption was linked to an increase in divergent thinking, a process that’s closely tied to creativity. The study looked at two groups of people, one with high levels of creativity at the start of the study and one with lower levels of creativity.
Researchers focused on people who were regular cannabis users, consuming marijuana at least 15 days a month. They looked at different activities that monitored divergent thinking, both while the participants consumed cannabis and when they didn’t.
The study found that cannabis stimulated more divergent thinking in the group of people with lower levels of creativity to begin with. However, it didn’t provide any major changes to the group that already exhibited high levels of creativity.
Low Doses of THC Seem to Stimulate Creativity
The University College study included relatively small doses of cannabis, with only a 10% THC concentration in the strain of cannabis that was used. Researchers believed that it was the low dose of THC that helped stimulate creativity, but higher doses wouldn’t have had the same effect. This study, however, is just one of a few in the very limited body of research looking at cannabis and creativity.
Cannabis Encourages the Free Flow of Ideas
Another possible explanation of why cannabis leads to more creativity could be found in the extensive endocannabinoid system. Cannabis interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which is also closely tied to the functioning of the brain, and it’s thought that cannabis consumption allows neurons in the brain to fire in a less inhibited manner. This lack of inhibition could be responsible for a freer flow of ideas while consuming cannabis. It could also stimulate creativity by decreasing the amount of mundane thoughts that can cloud the brain, clearing room for creativity to blossom.
Marijuana also promotes activity in the frontal lobe by increasing cerebral blood flow. The frontal lobe of the brain is partially responsible for creative drive because of the connection between neuron output and the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe is also responsible for divergent thinking, which was the factor measured in the University College study to determine levels of creativity. Cannabis’s ability to stimulate blood flow to the frontal lobe and allow neurons to fire in a more uninhibited way are just a few of the potential scientific explanations for the creative prowess that cannabis appears to bestow upon people.
What we do know for sure is that cannabis has been used by artists for thousands of years to help provide them with the proper mindset to create art. Cannabis allows people to live in the moment and embrace new thoughts as they come to them. People feel less inhibited on cannabis because they’re able to relax and connect more deeply with themselves and their surroundings. If you’re feeling a lack of creative stimulation, you may want to give cannabis a try—it could be the key to unlocking your full creative potential.