I started questioning the creative powers of cannabis a few weeks ago after getting way too high and writing a story. Despite being an everyday medicinal marijuana smoker, I can mess up sometimes.
I stood in the backyard, giggling at nothing for around five minutes. Once I came down a little, I finally thought, Oh, boy, and shuffled back inside.
I’m not sure how I went from binge-watching some old school Nicktoons to working. The details, while I’m sure are hilarious, don’t matter. What threw me once I came down was the finished product.
In the story, I made some risky jokes and choices; I played with details and words. Also, I never would’ve had the cajones to scratch out the thing without smoking myself into oblivion.
“This is going to get you eaten alive,” I’d sighed.
I’d done all the work, so I decided to tell my approaching panic attack to get bent and sent the piece off to a publication.
While I waited to witness the story’s fate, I concluded it was definitely my most creative to date, and I wrote it while under the influence.
So, I went to Google with a question: Does weed make you more creative?
A quick search taught me that the answer is, “Kind of,” but not in the way you’d guess.
Does Cannabis Make a Person More Creative?
In my head, you all are shaking yours now, muttering, “Well, that’s a vague answer.” You’re not alone. I got super confused at first, too. I stared at the computer screen for God knows how long before realizing I needed to snoop more.
I poked around for a while and found a recent study published by a graduate student. Emily LeFrance attends Washington State University, so she’s got some serious scientific street credit. You can read her study, titled Inspired by Mary Jane? Mechanisms underlying enhanced creativity in cannabis users, here in the publication Consciousness and Cognition.
It’s fascinating stuff and delves pretty deep, but I’ll let you read for yourself. The conclusion of the study found that cannabis users may be more creative than non-users. Yet, this isn’t because of marijuana. It also states all the participants completed the test stone-cold sober.
The study notes that, in their experiment…
- cannabis users exhibited outgoing and open-minded traits;
- cannabis users reported higher levels of artistic creativity than non-users, but had fewer achievements or completed projects;
- cannabis users earned higher performance scores on a convergent thinking test than non-users.
So, my sleuthing revealed a chicken and the egg dilemma: Does cannabis use improve creativity or do creative people just tend to like cannabis?
I decided that, for me, it did somehow connect to my improved creativity. This epiphany sent me racing downstairs, where I corned my mother, who’s a badass doctor. I wouldn’t leave until she explained the “Why?” to her stoner daughter.
She skimmed the report on my phone, and said, “It must break down some wall in a person’s head. Now excuse me, I’m in the shower.”
Resident expert Dr. Mom spoke illuminating words, indeed. Yet, I wasn’t satisfied. After another bowl, I returned to Google with an additional question: How does marijuana enhance creativity in users?
How Does Marijuana Enhance Creativity in Users?
The answer, in short, is it doesn’t, and can even have the reverse effect. It’s shocking, I know. I found a new study of almost sixty cannabis users in the Netherlands. What I read made me gasp like a hammy actress in a Telenovela.
The study concludes that, although we may feel creative, it’s an illusion. Certain strains of marijuana stimulate the part of the brain that controls divergent thinking: Creative problem solving, freewriting, and brainstorming. (“A-ha!” moments.) These heightened skills, coupled with carefree euphoria, seemed to give me the confidence to be a creative powerhouse.
Curiosity got the best of me, and I tested the idea out as I wrote this piece. I slowed my mind down and found myself asking, “Okay, what about this?” a lot. Some creative solutions came up, and I’m too stoned to care if you think they’re weird because I like them.
Boom. There’s some red tape, though.
The study goes on to warn users that ‘overdosing’ on marijuana won’t have the desired effect. Cannabis increases blood flow to the brain, which stimulates creative output and divergent thinking. You can read on further, but basically, the study says: low doses of marijuana may help a cannabis user feel more creative, and higher doses will stunt the creative flow.
It’s important to note that the Netherlands boasts some of the most potent weed in the world. So, what I’m smoking doesn’t come close to theirs, but I get the message.
Not to mention, smoking too much marijuana can even make you sick. Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome is an unpleasant illness. The only solution for me was a boiling hot shower and laying off the weed for a while. But dosage mistakes can happen.
Even now, after my last bowl, I smoked too much and lost my flow for a bit. The key is finding your strain and the dosage that’s best for you.
No, marijuana didn’t necessarily send me on a creative mind bend, but the uninhibited problem-solving and risk taking yielded some interesting— and creative — results. It’s kind of a lame end to this epic quest, but the science doesn’t lie.
Some may even ask if a low dosage is the way to go, why smoke at all? My answer is, for legends like Shakespeare, Stephen King, and Jack Kerouac and the rest of us schmucks, somehow it works.
For those who don’t partake, the message is simple: stop fucking caring.
I’ve come to find honesty and bravery are essential keys to creative story-writing, and to use them, you can’t give a shit. You can go cold turkey, or, you can get freaky and smoke a little green once in a while to loosen up the ‘ole hinges.
After all, that’s how I came up with this piece. It may be odd, but dammit, to me, it’s creative, and I don’t care who agrees, because I’m high.