It’s no secret that musicians, artists, writers and other creative types often use cannabis to get their creative juices flowing. Many swear by it. With cannabis becoming increasingly accepted and decriminalized, this popular drug is going increasingly mainstream. If you’re thinking about experimenting, you might begin to wonder if cannabis can increase your own creative output. For now, the answer is a definite maybe. Here’s why.
The Frontal Lobe
Harvard University’s Dr. Alice Weaver Flaherty has spent a lot of time studying the brain and creativity. Her findings indicate that the brain’s frontal lobe is more active in creative people than in others. Since cannabis stimulates the frontal lobe, she believes it’s possible that the drug could enhance a person’s creativity.
Most people experience linear thought patterns. If, for instance, you complete a word association exercise, you’ll likely associate the word car with things like gasoline, engines, travel or trucks. Your thoughts probably won’t turn to unrelated words like waffle or elephant. If they do, you’re engaging in divergent thinking. Divergent thinking doesn’t travel in a straight line. Instead, it allows you to see creative and interesting connections between seemingly unrelated things. Artists and musicians often engage in divergent thinking and it helps them present the world in a new way. Studies have shown that people do think divergently more frequently after a trip to local recreational cannabis dispensaries. Dose matters, however. While a little THC boosted divergent thinking among study participants, large amounts of the chemical actually dampened the thought process.
The Calming Effect
Stoners are often stereotyped as laid back dudes, and they’re somewhat deserving of this reputation. While a little cannabis can stimulate the brain, a little more often leads to a relaxed state that musicians and other creators find helpful. Artists often tap into their soul when creating something, and sharing their work opens them to criticism. A relaxed state of mind makes it easier for some to create without judging their own efforts too harshly along the way.
The Chicken or the Egg
Some medical researchers aren’t sure if cannabis stimulates creativity or if creative people just smoke more pot than others. Washington State University studied this phenomenon by testing over 700 people. Some were cannabis users and others were not, but all of the subjects were sober during the testing. It seems that, even when sober, the cannabis users exhibited higher problem-solving abilities and were much more open to new experiences. Researchers found no differences between the two groups when testing for creativity. This study suggests that cannabis use may simply appeal more to artistic people.
Until science catches up, it seems like the link between creativity and cannabis use will continue to be largely a matter of opinion and personal preference. If you feel cannabis helps you create and you’re in an area where its use is legal, there’s no reason not to smoke up.