Cannabis for Creativity?

Written by Mell Green

The relationship between cannabis and creativity is special and profound; however, it’s often misunderstood. The effects of cannabis consumers’ experiences from different cannabis chemovars can be described as sedative, motivating, hallucinogenic, and even psychedelic. At the same time, different people may feel different effects from the same chemovar. Cannabis is unusual in that there’s no single ‘universal effect’ it creates. If anything, most cannabis consumers typically report experiencing altered thought processes and perceptions. Instead of debating the usual politics of the plant, we ask, how does cannabis influence the foundations of creative thinking?

The traits of each individual play a key role in how one’s reality is perceived, and in regards to creativity, individuals do not share the same ability. An article published in The Conversation points out that there are five personality traits, and among them, one of the most important traits responsible for creativity is “openness.” Individuals with this trait tend to have stronger cravings for exploring multiple realities and are more likely to experience events in profound, internal ways — especially after consuming cannabis.

A 2012 study published in Consciousness & Cognition suggests that cannabis helps some individuals generate new ideas that we would consider unimaginable or unrelated in a normal state. [1] Similarly, another study connected cannabis use to “hyper-priming,” in which our ability to quickly form associations extends beyond the norm. [2]

Just think about all those creative types, such as painters, inventors, and designers, or musicians like Bob Marley, Lady Gaga, or Louis Armstrong, that cannabis has dragged out of productive limbo and into broader vistas — would Marley’s “One Love” exist without cannabis? Given all of cannabis’ medicinal properties and historical uses, it may be a fair question. But let’s just back up for a quick second.

It may not be all junk food and exceptional works of art for creative cannathusiasts. Research has also found that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may interrupt how our brain transforms memories — both short and long-term — which may make it hard to recollect all of those great ideas conjured while projected into a higher realm, no pun intended. [3]

Another drawback, according to a study in Psychopharmacology, is that cannabis’ effects on creativity may relate to dosage — high doses impaired creative performance under controlled conditions. [4] Cannabis can increase the activity of the frontal lobe, which means there’s a “sweet spot” we can hone to expand our minds and open up new patterns of possibility. [5] We’re not saying that cannabis will transform you into the next Socrates, but it’s imperative to find the right dosage that works for you.

While some find cannabis to have a profound impact on creativity, others do not. All in all, the plant seemingly has a place in artistic culture and with continued acceptance (and legalization), it will certainly be a factor for years to come.


  1. Schafer, Gráinne, et al. “Investigating the Interaction between Schizotypy, Divergent Thinking and Cannabis Use.” Consciousness and Cognition, vol. 21, no. 1, 2012, pp. 292–298, doi:10.1016/j.concog.2011.11.009. Journal Impact Factor = 1.855, Times Cited = 32
  2. Morgan, Celia J.A., et al. “Hyper-Priming in Cannabis Users: A Naturalistic Study of the Effects of Cannabis on Semantic Memory Function.” Psychiatry Research, vol. 176, no. 2-3, 2010, pp. 213–218, doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2008.09.002. Journal Impact Factor = 2.682, Times Cited = 16
  3. Curran, Valerie, et al. “Cognitive and Subjective Dose-Response Effects of Acute Oral Δ 9 -Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in Infrequent Cannabis Users.” Psychopharmacology, vol. 164, no. 1, Jan. 2002, pp. 61–70., doi:10.1007/s00213-002-1169-0. Journal Impact Factor = 3.875, Times Cited = 84 (PubMed)
  4. Kowal, Mikael A., et al. “Cannabis and Creativity: Highly Potent Cannabis Impairs Divergent Thinking in Regular Cannabis Users.” Psychopharmacology, vol. 232, no. 6, July 2014, pp. 1123–1134, doi:10.1007/s00213-014-3749-1. Journal Impact Factor = 3.875, Times Cited = 18
  5. Oleary, D. “Effects of Smoking Marijuana on Brain Perfusion and Cognition.” Neuropsychopharmacology, vol. 26, no. 6, 2002, pp. 802–816., doi:10.1016/s0893-133x(01)00425-0. Journal Impact Factor = 7.160, Times Cited = 140.

Image Credit:  The Growthop

About the author

Mell Green

Mell is a published writer and advocate of the legal cannabis movement who’s dedicated to all things wellness. You can catch her work in a number of publications including Plant People,, and the Weed Blog. She’s a proud volunteer of the National Hemp Association and enjoys consuming cannabis medicinally and recreationally.

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