From Purple Haze to Crypto Cannabis Club NFTs, cannabis has been associated with creative expression for many years. Countless artists, musicians, and writers throughout history have been known to use cannabis to enhance their creativity and inspiration. While the relationship between cannabis and creativity is still not fully understood, there is growing scientific evidence to suggest that there may be a connection between the two. Let us explore the topic to see if those blue zushi seeds that you planted are going to help you top your design year.
Famous Cannabis Creatives
Even before cannabis was legalized in the US, many popular and famous artists have openly discussed—or barely disguised—their cannabis use. One of the most renowned of these is Bob Marley. Marley was a devout Rastafarian and believed that cannabis was a sacrament that helped him to connect with his spiritual side. He often spoke about the plant’s ability to inspire creativity and promote peace and love and wrote a song called “Kaya” (a slang term for the plant.)
Another famous musician known to love cannabis was Jimi Hendrix, one of the most iconic guitarists of all time. He was known for his experimental sound and style and often spoke about cannabis’ ability to inspire his music. Hendrix was known to smoke cannabis before recording and performing, and some of his songs like “Purple Haze” have been interpreted as references to the plant. There is now also a delicious strain of cannabis named after the song!
In recent years, many contemporary artists have similarly openly discussed their use of cannabis as a lifestyle and creative-enhancing substance. Snoop Dogg is one of the most vocal and successful cannabis advocates in the music industry. He has been a longtime supporter of legalization and has even launched a cannabis brand called “Leafs By Snoop” and a cannabis venture capital firm called Casa Verde Capital that recently invested $15 million in medical cannabis.
It would be wrong to assume that cannabis aficionados are only people of color though. Legendary country musician Willie Nelson has been a longtime advocate for cannabis legalization as well and also heads up his own cannabis company, “Willie’s Reserve.” Nelson has been openly using cannabis for most of his life and believes that it is a natural and beneficial plant. He has written many songs about it including “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.”
What Does the Science Say?
If you plan to use cannabis to enhance your creativity, it seems you are in good company. However, cannabis can affect people differently and you may not experience the same levels of inspiration as these music greats. So, what does the science say about cannabis and creativity?
One of the primary reasons cannabis is thought to be linked to creativity is that it can alter the way the brain processes information. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a psychoactive compound found in cannabis that is responsible for many of the drug’s effects. THC binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain—which are involved in many processes such as mood, memory, and cognition—changing the way that they work.
A study published in Consciousness and Cognition found that acute cannabis users experienced increased verbal fluency which allowed those who were generally less creative to achieve a level of verbal fluency as those who were more creative. Researchers theorize that this is due to the effect of cannabis on divergent thinking, which refers to the ability to come up with multiple ideas or solutions to a problem.
But, It’s Not That Simple
Despite the long-standing association between cannabis and creativity, there is still much that is not understood about the relationship between the two. While some research suggests that cannabis may be able to enhance creativity and divergent thinking, other studies have shown that it can impair cognitive function and reduce motivation, which could have a negative impact on creative output.
Other studies on cannabis use and creativity that have found mixed results, with some showing no significant effect on creativity and others suggesting that highly potent cannabis may even impair creative performance. One theory is that cannabis users are self-reporting their levels of creativity, but what they perceive may in fact be due to reduced inhibitions and increased confidence instead.
To Smoke or Not to Smoke?
Given the fact that science is still on the fence about whether cannabis is indeed linked to creativity, further research is needed to fully understand the nature of this relationship. Furthermore, the effects of cannabis can vary depending on dosage, frequency of use, and individual differences in sensitivity to the drug.
What we do know is that cannabis can reduce inhibitions, increase mood, and alter perception—all of which can play a role in creativity. However, whether these do end up translating into the desired output is another question altogether. Until science can give us a definitive answer, it is up to you to weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks of cannabis use for your creative pursuits and to make informed decisions about your consumption based on your goals and priorities.
Or, you could just enjoy cannabis recreationally without any expectations and see where it takes you. If it does wind up making you more creative, consider it a bonus!