Seedsman Blog
cannabis creative
Home » Can Cannabis Make You More Creative?

Can Cannabis Make You More Creative?

“I smoke a lot of pot when I write music,” says Lady Gaga, the 34-year-old Academy Award-winning singer, songwriter, actress and businesswoman worth $150 million.

In a candid interview on CBS ‘60 Minutes’, she became yet another artist to open up about her cannabis use and how it helps her creatively. Like or loathe her music, there’s no denying that Gaga is an extraordinarily talented woman, and it would appear that weed plays an integral role in her creative process.

It’s not just musicians who enjoy a little herbal refreshment to get those juices flowing, either. According to a new study by researchers at the University of Michigan, over a third of software programmers have used cannabis on the job, claiming that doing so helps get them into the “programming zone” and promotes creativity. Going back a bit, there are also theories suggesting Shakespeare and Picasso both enjoyed a smoke.

So, what is it about cannabis that helps so many people open up creatively and get into that state of flow? How does cannabis help with creativity?

How does Cannabis Make you More Creativite?

There’s a theory that cannabis users just tend to be people with more creative types of personalities. One 2017 study entitled ‘Inspired by Mary Jane? Mechanisms underlying enhanced creativity in cannabis users’ concluded that sober cannabis users “self-reported higher creativity, and performed significantly better on a measure of convergent thinking” when compared to non-users. However, convergent thinking (more of a process of logical thinking to solve a problem) is only one tiny aspect of creativity. Many would argue that perhaps the least ‘important’ part of the process.

As with most of our understanding of creativity as a whole, studies directly exploring this subject matter concerning cannabis are still lacking. But, several studies are looking at the impact of cannabis use on specific brain functions that are inextricably linked to creativity. So, let’s dive in.

cannabis creative

Does CBD Make you More Creative?

We know that cannabis can work wonders on patients with retractable epilepsy. While there are multiple mechanisms (cannabinoids/terpenes/flavonoids) at play, one aspect that’s likely to contribute is how the CBD molecule affects brain network dynamics.

One study revealed that patients showing positive responsiveness to CBD treatment showed ‘stronger network integration and segregation’ within the brain – a balance of which is also vital to support the demands of diverse cognitive abilities, such as creativity. In laymen’s terms, this means CBD can help with connectivity across various areas brain responsible for different things, as well as support distinct, separate networks used for different functions.

A series of papers (referenced here) reported that this sort of dynamic interaction across the brain systems tends to cooperate during creative thinking and artistic performance. This enables a creative person to focus and problem solve while allowing for free thought and experimentation free from inhibition, which naturally leads to the best masterpiece!

Further to this, there’s also frontal lobe neurology to consider. It’s believed that the prefrontal cortex plays a crucial role in the cognitive functions necessary for creative thinking. Again, it’s high CBD that’s been found to increase blood flow here significantly. It also increases blood flow to the hippocampus – the ‘sensible’ evaluating area of the brain which, on its own, might decrease free-thinking, spontaneous flow required for creativity, but when communicating with other regions of the brain (as mentioned above), appears to produce more original ideas. This combination of actions would seem to support efficient creativity, not just wild ideas stemming from a wandering mind that can’t be focused on.

Could high CBD cannabis strains enhance creativity? That’s yet to be determined, but given what we know about creativity, the brain and the impact of CBD of brain function, it’s certainly something worth exploring.

Does THC Boost Creativity?

Although anecdotally, many artists speak highly of getting super stoned with using cannabis for creativity, some of the science says this actually won’t help at all.

One study suggested that high THC (22mg) can hamper the creative process, impairing divergent thinking, as reflected in decreased scores for fluency, flexibility, and originality of responses.

Perhaps unsurprising to read for those who have experienced what it’s like to be really, really high…

cannabis creative

In that same study, it was found that low THC (5.5mg) did not affect creativity at all.

However, many other studies suggest otherwise.

An increase in dopamine (indirectly caused by both THC and CBD) has been shown to play a role in optimal divergent thinking and creativity. THC has also resulted in lowered inhibitions, which can lead to the free-thinking needed for original, creative thought and processes.

A low dose of THC doesn’t seem to impede divergent thinking like higher doses, with one historical study showing that subjects who smoked a 3mg THC joint actually displayed ‘significantly enhanced performance on two divergent production tasks’. However, another study found that participants given joints containing a relatively high 19 mg of THC saw an increase in the number of original responses given in a test.

Cannabis for Creativity: A Personal Preference

Just going by all we’ve covered so far, it seems that using cannabis for creativity is about finding the right balance. Particularly as everyone’s creative process is different. Some might benefit more from less control and lowered inhibitions, while others might feel as though a little more focus is beneficial for them.

Musician Inner Terrain says that some of his best music was written while high. “It’s like a cheat code to get into a flow state. It gives my mind the freedom to express myself and unlock my potential.”

High THC helps him break free from past trauma that prevents him from opening up creatively.

On the other hand, Christina French, co-founder of Essench UK, finds that adding an extra dose of CBD to her cannabis consumption helps her think straight. “I use both cannabis and CBD to manage my endometriosis symptoms. As a welcome side effect, I find it also enhances my creativity by increasing focus and reducing brain fog.”

Charlie Brocker, from Manchester, finds cannabis really helps with the creative process when writing articles, reviews and copy, both in his day job and side projects. “I find it helps to reduce self-doubt,” he says “cannabis allows me to write with more conviction on my subject matters.”

Outside of the UK, certain cannabis companies are embracing the potential weed has to offer when thinking outside the box for new business strategies.

Kyle Drennon, from Supper Co in Springfield, Montana, shared how they even welcome clients to come and share ‘several Js’ during brainstorming sessions.

“It was very effective, and we all had a great time! We were ideating on strain art and brainstorming a creative writing project. We came up with enough content for a year! It almost always leads to a deeper clarity and more engaging details.”

Which Terpenes Make you Creative?

Of course, the effects of cannabis don’t only come down to the CBD/THC content. Yes, they are the cannabinoids present in the highest levels, but there are over 140 others, up to 100 terpenes and flavonoids, to take into consideration too.

cannabis creative

It wouldn’t be possible to untangle the entire complexities of how whole-plant cannabis can help with creativity in one article, or at all, given the research still needed into minor cannabinoids). But, there is room to say that strains high in terpinolene, limonene or pinene tend to be the favourites for focus, problem-solving, free-flowing creativity and energy.

Does Cannabis Make you More Creative: The Takeaway

Overall, with the correct dose and appropriate chemotype, the evidence suggests that cannabis can be used very effectively to enhance creativity and focus. Not all cannabis is made equal, but that’s part of its beauty. Finding the right balance in dose, cannabinoid and terpene content to reach your optimal creative state is a matter of finding the right balance. Once you find it, you may just produce your best work yet!

Cultivation information, and media is given for those of our clients who live in countries where cannabis cultivation is decriminalised or legal, or to those that operate within a licensed model. We encourage all readers to be aware of their local laws and to ensure they do not break them.

This post is also available in: French

Ruby Deevoy