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29. Jan 2020

Weed and Creativity: Is There a Connection?

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One of the notable claims you’ll hear from seasoned marijuana users is that smoking weed significantly boosts creativity. It’s easy to dismiss such claims and attribute them to the sheer intoxication that results from the psychotropic properties of cannabis.

However, it’s undeniably true that marijuana’s popularity has been on a steady rise, especially in the health and fitness industries. And as more benefits of weed continue to unveil, scientists are also keen on establishing whether the substance can, indeed, enhance a user’s mental faculties. Read on for more insights on the topic.

A marijuana user enjoying the puff. Image courtesy of Pixabay

Creativity and How to Measure It

Human creativity is one of the most abstract and subjective concepts. But to define it subjectively, creativity implies the outward manifestation of novel thought processes. You can measure the outcome of creative thought through practical actions, speech, written work, as well as music, painting, and other art forms.

In his attempt to define creativity, Gregory Feist argues that creative people are open to new experiences, less conscientious, and less conventional. Feist also associates creatives with self-confidence, self-acceptance, ambition, impulsiveness, and domineering personalities.

There are numerous real-life examples of people whose actions epitomized creativity. A case in point is Isaac Newton. Newton discovered the law of gravity when he observed an apple falling from the tree and onto the ground, instead of remaining afloat or rising higher into the air. Archimedes of Syracuse is another notable example. While taking a hot bath, Archimedes noted that his body displaced a significant volume of water each time he entered the tub.

Weed smoker preparing a roll. Image courtesy of Pixabay

According to most scholars, creativity manifests in critical thinking. For example, if your business has recently been through rough patches, it would require creativity to design the best course of action to revamp it. But creativity isn’t only limited to the analytical mind. It also extends to art, music, and other facets of life.

Is it accurately measurable? Measuring creativity is nearly as challenging as defining it. You can only measure creative thoughts if you subject different people to standardized tests. That makes it all the more challenging to establish whether marijuana makes its users creative or not. A fitness freak may smoke weed and observe heightened focus in his workouts. A student may smoke the same strain of marijuana before his exams but suddenly end up with a blank mind.

What Does Research Say on Marijuana and Creativity?

Right off the bat, let’s admit that marijuana causes users to perceive themselves as having more profound powers and creative thoughts. That fact alone might help explain why many artists laud its use. You are what you believe. Plus, a person with a bloated perception of their abilities can easily take bold actions.

However, there’s a fine line between perception and reality. The fact that a substance alters your opinion doesn’t necessarily imply that the said substance can create new realities. Even alcohol gets you to forget your worries for a while. One study in the Netherlands featured about 60 marijuana users. The study measured a kind of creativity known as divergent thinking or the ability to brainstorm as many solutions to a problem as possible.

The opposite is convergent thinking, which requires an individual to come up with the most accurate or desirable solution from a list of possibilities.

Participants received measured doses of marijuana without the mind-altering THC compound. In the end, participants were supposed to come up with as many probable uses as possible for standard items. Surprisingly, it emerged that the higher the dose, the lower the creativity level.

But is this experiment sufficient to conclude that marijuana doesn’t induce creativity? Earlier and subsequent research have since proved otherwise.

Marijuana and the Mind

How cannabis reacts with the user’s body determines how much impact it has on their creativity. Remember that creative thoughts emanate from the frontal lobe of the brain. And smoking weed directly increases cerebral blood flow to the frontal lobe. As a result, the area becomes more active, which could directly impact creativity.

The frontal lobe serves as a hub for divergent creative thinking, which makes it the surest indication that cannabis could enhance creativity. In a publication on the NCBI, studies conducted in 1992 showed a significant correlation between marijuana use and increased CBF. Another research commissioned in 2002 corroborated these findings.

But besides interacting favorably with the frontal lobe, how cannabis influences creativity also comes down to the doses. Multiple studies have discovered that marijuana improves two elements of divergent thinking if you use it in low doses. Those include fluency and flexibility. Sativa dominant bruce banner strain, if taken in small doses can enhance your creative witts.

To paint a clearer picture, offer low doses of weed, say, 5.5 mg THC, to a user. Then ask them to brainstorm a topic, such as on how to scale a high wall. You’ll realize that the user not only comes up with numerous methods of climbing the wall but also multiple variations for each technique. However, an increase in dosage to, say, over 20 mg THC, tends to impair creativity. High-dosage users show reduced elaboration or the amount of detail they give for each response.

Does Weed Boost Creativity Even If You’re Already Creative?

An interesting study conducted in 2012 investigated the effects of cannabis on low creativity and high creativity groups. Results suggested that the substance boosts low creativity but has no significant impact on those who’re already creative.

However, this study also brought to the fore an exciting twist. While testing different personality types, it came out that weed users scored higher in terms of “openness to experience.” Researchers couldn’t explain if it’s the cannabis that causes this feeling or creative people just find themselves drawn to marijuana.

Another thing that you must also remember is that different marijuana strains produce different results. Generally, Sativa strains are associated with more creativity. But even then, you’ll still need to invest in the best Sativa strains to see maximum effects.

Lastly, marijuana’s anxiety and pain-relieving effects might also be tied to improved creativity. It’s only natural that a nervous individual cannot make rational decisions or respond to stimuli more objectively. A little dose of weed is all it takes to calm such people down and enable them to be more creative with their thoughts.

For most of the studies done so far, cannabis has shown tremendous potential in improving creativity. However, remember that it all comes down to choosing proper strains and administering the right doses.

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