Creativity is one of the benefits you often hear singers, songwriters, and other artists discussing about cannabis. The question seems simple, "does cannabis help with creativity?" However, the answer isn't cut and dry. Instead, it depends on the person, how creative they are without marijuana, the chemical composition of the flowers or concentrates they're using, and how much THC they ingest. Everyone has different mentalities and personalities that affect how we do things and react in certain situations. Additionally, these are not physical tests where you can rigorously test your performance against one another under certain conditions to come up with a definite conclusion.
Cannabis, Creativity, & What the Artists' Say
Artists, singers, musicians, and writers throughout history have claimed cannabis as their muse. Here are some of the most famous quotes about the potent herb and creating beautiful sounds, images, and other forms of expression.
In 2011, long before legalisation was on many peoples' radar, Lady Gaga, 24 at the time, told Anderson Cooper on "60 Minutes,"
"I smoke a lot of pot when I write music ... I'm not gonna, like, sugar coat it for 60 Minutes that, you know, I'm some, like, sober human being 'cause I'm not. I drink a lot of whiskey, and I smoke weed when I write."
Going further back, Bob Marley didn't keep his use a secret.
"Music and herb go together. It's been a long time now I smoke herb. From the 1960s, when I first start singing."
Additionally, although he's not an artist in the traditional sense, Steve Jobs, the long-time face of Apple, once said,
"The best way I would describe the effect of the marijuana and the hashish is that it would make me relaxed and creative."
Cannabis & Creativity: What the Research Shows
Okay. So, now you know what the artists are saying about the popular flowers, but does the research back up their claims? Yes and no. That's not the answer you were looking for, so let's dive into what science says about cannabis and creativity.
An article in MIC took a deep dive into the question with cannabis expert Lewis Nelson, who's also the chair of the department of emergency medicine and chief of the division of medical toxicology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
He advises the author that there's a lot of research about cannabis and creativity. However, it's mixed. There are a few factors involved, including how creative the person is at the start.
Only a select group of people worldwide are artists, whether it's singing, playing an instrument, painting, drawing, writing, or taking pictures and videos. At the same time, many have some raw talent. As skill increases, the group of creatives thins.
So, while a writer might get past a block by puffing on a bubbler with some Durban Poison or even GG or White Wedding, there's no guarantee you're going to pick up a brush and paint the next Mona Lisa.
At the same time, any creative boost has a cut-off. Too much THC, no matter what strain, can leave you in a couch-lock. Nelson explains,
"I can assure you that people who get a very high dose of THC won't be creative. They'll be very sleepy and very paranoid."
So, where does science come into play?
The part of the brain that is responsible for creativity is the frontal cortex. Studies show that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in memory and other functions performed in this brain area. The presence of cannabinoid receptors shows the potential for cannabis phytocannabinoids, including THC, to interact with the frontal cortex and play a part in creative thinking.
Finding the Right Strain
Most people think cannabis is about three subspecies—Indica, sativa, or hybrid. But they're wrong. The potent plant is about the chemical makeup that produces different effects. While you can get a basic idea by looking at the three, your best option is to check out the THC count, terpene profile, and minor cannabinoids. Nonetheless, that's rather time-consuming. If you don't have the time or patience, here are some of the top cannabis strains for creativity.
Chemdawg is an old-school flower that's been brightening people's days for years. Although it's not sativa-dominant, it's a near 50-50 split that'll keep your body grounded while lifting your mind. A few puffs will relax your mind and muscles but won't put you on the couch. It has a robust diesel-like aroma and flavor and may boost your ability to find your inner creativity. Chemdawg contains about 20% THC, and too much will take away any creative streak.
If you're looking for something that will keep you going during the day with a few hits, Durban Poison is your best bet. First, the strain is one of the few pure sativas available, and it offers energetic and uplifting effects that users swear boost their creativity. It contains about 20% THC and a nice chunk, about 1%, of CBG, a minor cannabinoid. The dominant terpene is terpinolene which provides a sweet aroma.
Super Sour Diesel
Super Sour Diesel needs no introduction. It offers a one-two punch for pain and anxiousness, freeing your mind to get crazy with your next project. Consumers report an extreme euphoria with the strain's 22% THC, which could put you out if you smoke or vape too much.
Will these strains help you write a new song, get past writer's block, or finish that tune that's been stuck in your head? Scientists don't know, and the only way to find out is to grab some flowers or vape oil and get to work. However, remember what Professor Nelson said and don't overdo it. Your best option is to microdose, which involves taking a few hits from your vape device or joint and putting it down while working.