marijuana and an artist painting

Marijuana and (the lack of) Creativity

By MK Thomson

May 9 2023

Ask most cannabis users and they’ll say that marijuana and creativity just go hand-in-hand, with many of us claiming that cannabis helps us unlock (otherwise untapped) creative potential. However, a recent article by the Washington Post challenges this long-standing belief, suggesting that people do not actually get more creative when partaking in marijuana. Interestingly enough, they published the piece on April 20th. Sending a message, y’think?

marijuana buds and colored pencils

Marijuana and creativity

The study mentioned in the WaPo article — which was conducted with only 500 participants (hmmm …) — found no significant correlation between marijuana use and creativity. While some participants reported feeling more creative while under the influence of the herb, this effect was not observed across the board.

Interestingly, the study also found that long-time marijuana users were more likely to report feeling more clear-headed and more focused when using marijuana. This seems to contradict the popular stereotype of the absent-minded stoner and suggests that the effects of marijuana may be more complex than was previously thought.

So, should we make of this ‘study’? Does it mean that marijuana has no creative benefits, or that those of us who claim to feel more creative while using it are simply imagining things?

No research is perfect

We also have to consider that the study highlighted in the Washington Post article only involved 500 people. We don’t know how creative these people were, to begin with, and if they were tested on people who weren’t interested in creative pursuits, then the results might not be as effective. It’s possible that marijuana might not have the same effect on someone who isn’t already naturally creative or interested in the arts. So, while the study is interesting and informative, it’s important to take it with a grain of salt and keep in mind that individual results may vary.

The truth is likely somewhere in between. While it’s reasonable to think that marijuana may not be the magic bullet for creativity for everyone, there are still many people who swear by its creative benefits. For some (like most of us here at CLOVR), partaking in the ganja seems to help them/us break free from their/our usual patterns of thinking and come up with fresh ideas.

Of course, this is all anecdotal evidence, and as the study in the article suggests, the effects of marijuana on creativity may be highly individual. It’s possible that some people are simply more prone to feeling creative while under the influence of cannabis, while others may not experience any creative benefits at all, but rather become very chatty or deep in thought.

marijuana and an artist painting

Long-time consumers may think differently

Long-time consumers strongly believe that marijuana enhances their creativity. While some people might dismiss these claims as mere marijuana mythology, there’s actually a lot of evidence to support the idea that cannabis can enhance creativity – at least for some people.

When we consume marijuana, it affects the levels of various neurotransmitters in our brain via the endocannabinoid system, including dopamine and serotonin. This can facilitate changes in our perception, mood, and cognition, which in turn can help us get into our “groove” and facilitate our creativity.

Marijuana has been shown to increase activity in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain associated with creativity and abstract thinking. Additionally, marijuana can heighten sensory perception, which can be a facilitator for creative folks. Colors may seem brighter, music may sound more vibrant, and even everyday objects can take on new meaning and significance. (Just look at Dali while high and you’ll know what we mean!)

Of course, the effects of marijuana can be highly individual, and what works for one person may not work for another. But for many long-time consumers, the benefits of marijuana are clear: it can help them tap into their creative potential and come up with ideas that they might not have otherwise thought of – regardless of what a WaPo article might say.

marijuana pipe and painting tools

It’s all about the strain

Another factor to consider is the marijuana strain you are using. Different strains can have totally different effects on the brain, with some strains promoting creativity while others may seem like they are hindering creativity – – but perhaps maybe heightening another sense, like thinking. Additionally, the method of consumption can also play a role, with edibles and tinctures often producing a more intense and longer-lasting high than smoking or vaping.

Despite the lack of concrete evidence, from this long-time user, “marijuana and creativity” are not a myth. In popular culture, we see countless examples of artists, musicians, and writers who credit their creative output to marijuana use. Just turn on a 60s classic rock or watch The Simpsons or Archer adult cartoons! Regardless of studies or research, it’s clear that marijuana has been a boost to creativity for many people for a very long time..

So, what can we take away from all of this? First and foremost, it’s important to remember that everyone’s brain chemistry is different. What works for one person may not work for another, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to creativity. And while marijuana might heighten creativity in one person; it might spark something else in another person.

If you’re a marijuana user who feels more creative while under the influence of it, that’s great – keep doing what works for you. But if you’re not seeing any creative benefits, don’t force it. Creativity can come from many sources, and there’s no need to rely on a muse to unlock your potential.

hand holding marijuana leaf at sunset

Marijuana and the lack of creativity – myth or fact?

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to stay curious and open-minded. Keep trying out different methods of unlocking your creativity, whether that means trying new activities, seeking out new experiences, or simply allowing yourself to daydream. And if you do decide to use marijuana to jump-start your creativity, try different strains and different types of marijuana products to find which combination is the key to your creativity.

In conclusion, the Washington Post study may have challenged our assumptions about marijuana and creativity, but it hasn’t completely debunked the idea that marijuana can be a creative aid for some people. As with all things related to creativity, the best approach is to stay open-minded, curious, and willing to experiment. Who knows – you might just discover a new source of inspiration that takes your creative output to the next level.

And who knows, maybe future studies will shed more light on the relationship between marijuana and creativity, providing us with a clearer understanding of this fascinating and often misunderstood adult-use supplement and medicine. However, this will likely not happen in earnest until the federal government decriminalizes marijuana by rescheduling it. Read here for more about the federal government’s classification of marijuana. Until then, enjoy your cannabis, use it responsibly, and bring on creativity!