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Cannabis and creativity--what’s the connection? That’s one of the biggest questions in the world of weed today that, unfortunately, has no clear-cut answer.
There are tons of people weighing in on whether or not weed increases your creativity, and naturally, they tend to disagree. We’re here today to talk about how cannabis can influence your creativity, especially when it comes to visual art, and also to highlight some artists who use it as their muse.
People just can’t seem to agree on whether or not weed makes you more creative. Some people believe it’s the cure to artists’ block, while others feel that it dulls their senses too much to create while high. Ultimately, whether or not cannabis will spark your creativity may come down to a case-by-case (and strain-by-strain) basis, but we do know one thing.
What we definitely know is that THC causes your body to produce dopamine, aka your “happy hormone.” It’s the same one that makes you happy when you buy an outfit you really like, smell cookies baking in the oven, or see your dog after a long day at work. THC can increase your dopamine levels, putting you in a happier state of mind.
Side note: this may not work as well for heavy users. I’m talking smoke-all-day-every-day kinds of people. Long-term exposure to THC can lower your everyday dopamine levels, so make sure you aren’t smoking 24/7/365 if increased dopamine/creativity is your goal.
Dopamine, however, increases divergent thought, which is what makes you creative. Simply put, divergent thought is when your brain decides to think outside the box. For artists, writers, musicians, and other creative types, divergent thought is super important! Imagine trying to paint the next Starry Night, but only being able to envision the original. Divergent thought is what’s needed to create your own masterpiece.
That being said, smoking won’t make you a world-class painter or platinum-record musician. I could smoke all I want and still wouldn’t be able to draw more than a stick figure. Practice, perseverance, and dedication are truly necessary to become a great artist--whether or not the weed helps is (almost) entirely up to the artist.
I say (almost) because there are a few tricks you can use to really boost your creativity with the help of good ol’ MJ. The following strains are mostly Sativa-based, which is what you want when you’re trying to increase creativity. Sativa-dominant strains are energizing and cerebral, whereas Indica-heavy strains are more relaxing and can give you a stronger body high. Stick to Sativa for studio sessions!
Vincent Gordon: This amazing artist grew up in Chicago, then bounced around the country trying to make it work as an artist. Now, he’s done it! Vincent’s love of weed is evident in everything he creates, from murals in Harlem to prints of popular cartoon characters smoking blunts. His love of cannabis, counterculture, and creativity has made him a great artist who’s even created work for Snoop Dogg.
Anita Toke: As a prominent artist and medical marijuana user, Anita Toke advocates for legalization of cannabis everywhere. She believes in the healing power of the plant, and uses her work to document its fine beauty. She typically paints the plant itself, working with a ton of detail to show off how naturally beautiful it is. We love her precision and level of effort to bring her paintings to life!
Fred Tomselli: Although he’s dabbled in more than just marijuana, Fred Tomaselli credits the plant with inspiring most of his work. He says that “art is really about perception, and mine has been changed through visiting other realities.” Sounds like something a stoner would say, for sure. Fred’s work is geometric, psychedelic, and something you should definitely buy to stare at during your next smoke sess.
Bentley Meeker: A bit more “out there,” this modern artist uses weed and unique settings to challenge preconceived notions about the plant. In the piece linked here, visitors could stroll through a room completely swathed in cannabis leaves, leaving them to think about how marijuana impacts our society on every level. He’s also a lighting and staging professional.
Despite the fact that I can’t draw more than a stick figure, I enjoy smoking and seeing what I can write. However, my sister is an artist, and a pretty good one. One day we were sitting at home, her staring at her blank sketchbook and me staring at my blank page. Suddenly the thought hit me like a lightning bolt: why don’t we smoke?
So we lit up and got to work, listening to inspiring music and entering our flow states. By the time the high wore off, I’d written one of my favorite poems, and she’s painted one of the most beautiful landscapes either of us had ever seen. To this day, it’s one of my favorite pieces of hers, and she credits that smoke session with being the thing that put an end to her artists’ block. Thank you, MJ!
Whether or not weed can definitively increase your creativity is something that science is still trying to figure out. Since I’m no scientist, I can’t for sure say that it will make you more creative. What I can say is this:
There are some amazing weed-inspired artists out there. Go and support them--if the MORE Act is passed, then weed is gonna get a little more expensive (thank you, sales tax). Go purchase art from your favorite creatives so that they can keep doing what they love!
The only way to tell if weed will increase your creativity is to try it out. So get out a pencil and paper to draw, write a poem, or create the next greatest symphony. Don’t forget your bong, blunt, pen, or other favorite way to smoke, and stay toasty!
Emma Grace is a full-time student, writer, and lover of Marvel movies. She spends most of her time ignoring her responsibilities in favor of reading, learning global geography, and finding new ways to prepare instant noodles. She lives with her parents and sister and a very needy dog named Eloise.