Does marijuana use affect creativity? Since the beginning of recorded history, the phenomenon of creativity has been viewed through the lens of mystery and romance. In early Western cultures, inspiration (from the Latin inspirare, “to breathe into”) was a “divine something” (daimonion) from muses or gods or even demons. The demons acquired different names as time went on—absinthe, whiskey, manic depression—but even now, a lot of people feel that inspiration is a thing that happens somewhere outside of the creator.
The problem with this theory, aside from being wildly unscientific, is that if you write or draw or design ads for a living, you can only wait so long for divine intervention before your electricity gets cut off. Over the years, artists of all disciplines have found that a mix of study, training, and routine are effective for prolificacy. There is empirical evidence that meditation, daydreaming, exercise, and adequate sleep, among other things, work well for most people who want to increase creativity and productivity.
What Is Creativity and Where Does It Come From?
Creativity, according to scientists and legends like Steve Jobs, is about connecting seemingly unrelated things. Many studies have been made on the nature of inspiration, and now it is understood that a few things happen in the brain that promote creativity and productivity.
There’s a theory that problem solving and the generation of ideas has to do with a mix of divergent and convergent thinking; that is to say, creativity is a mix of logic and problem solving, as well as the ability to understand abstract concepts and “think outside the box.” Inhibitions, as well as anxieties and the lack of motivation that often comes with those anxieties, hinder the creative process by a lot. And while there are no magic pills or drugs to take to ensure that you’re churning out masterpieces 24/7, there are things that you can do today to set yourself up to be creative and help you write that novel you’ve been putting off since forever.
How Marijuana Can Help You Be More Creative
The nature of cannabis as a creative aid is somewhat debated, and due to strict laws against the growing and use of cannabis, studies are few and underfunded (though there is some progress on that front), but it does hold firm ground in most scientific circles. As a psychoactive, cannabis releases serotonin, acetylcholine, dopamine, and a host of other neurotransmitters and enhances blood flow in the brain. The cannabinoids present in in marijuana are noted to temporarily speed up the exchange of information between the left and right sides of the brain, which could explain heightened states of creativity.
Marijuana in certain doses promotes relaxation, a feeling of happiness, altered perception, and heightened sensitivity to sensory information. And when you’re relaxed, confident, happy, and receptive, it’s much easier to formulate exciting new ideas. There is evidence that marijuana can improve episodic memory retrieval and pattern recognition. In addition to all of this, a study from the University of Bonn, headed by a Prof. Dr. Andreas Zimmer, has found that low doses of THC (too small to give psychoactive effects) can actually reverse the effects of brain ageing.
Many people report having improved focus on marijuana. They are less prone to distraction, and their brains are capable of more complex calculations. Some even report higher motivation and energy, though it’s important to note that large doses may cause the opposite effect.
Choose the Right Strain and Dose for Your Desired Outcome
There are over a hundred cannabinoids present in marijuana. The most well-studied are THC and CBD. THC, a psychoactive, is the component of marijuana that gives you that “high,” sedated feeling. CBD, a non-psychoactive, offsets this effect because there is no high from it. The best strains of marijuana for a leg up on creativity, users have reported, are strains which are low in THC and high in CBD.
Variances in cannabinoid and terpene profiles make it so that every strain is different, and it’s very easy to get too high a dose of THC if you don’t read up on what strains work for different tasks. Then there’s the well-known fact that people react differently to drugs, depending on body makeup, brain chemistry, and even personality. Some studies have reported that when normally less creative people smoke marijuana, they get a higher boost in the cognitive functions related to creativity than the people who are regularly highly creative. That is to say, less creative people (or people who are stuck in a rut) get more creative after they smoke marijuana; more creative people don’t really experience much of an improvement.
Many report the ideal dose to be somewhere between 5 mg and 10mg for beginners, but doses less than 5 mg have also been cited. It’s best to stay away from sedative strains, such as many strains of indica, though some legendary indica strains like Special Kush #1 have been said to help inspiration along by a lot. Nota bene: Too much cannabis can result in racing thoughts, paranoia, and anxiety, so make sure to take the appropriate dose for your desired outcome.
A Caveat on Cannabis Usage
Most employers don’t really care if the creatives that work for them have a little THC in their systems. However, the drawback is that many workplaces, especially those of a more corporate kind, aren’t too keen and will occasionally run tests to find out who’s doing weed in their spare time. This might pose a case against regular micro-dosing and cannabis use for creativity as THC and other cannabinoids can stay in your system for days or months depending on your usage, but home test kids can detect the amount of THC prior to testing time so that you can prepare.
If you’re under the amount of THC legally allowed in your system, you’re sweet. If not, some online stores even offer detox kits for blood, saliva, and urine tests. There are even special shampoos to get your hair ultra clean for those notoriously hard-to-pass hair follicle tests. If all else fails, science has given us the miracle of dehydrated urine to help you pass.
Remember that different people react differently to different types and doses of drugs. It could take some time for you to figure out which dose and strain for a boost in creativity and productivity work for you. However much and often you decide to use marijuana as a creative tool, it’s best to do your research, experiment a little, and stay safe.
About the Author
Devin Yirka is the Production Assistant at Testclear, a drug testing advisor and online seller of home drug testing kits. He occasionally writes for Testclear about drug testing and other related topics.