Creativity and Cannabis

By Justin Allec

Along with the tell-tale signs of red eyes and empty chip bags, another assumption about cannabis is that it will promote creativity. Yes indeed, you just need to inhale, and soon your mind will be soaring to unknown heights—or something.

At first glance, though, the connection makes sense. Cannabis puts you in a different head space. Combine this elevated perspective with known physiology: “creativity” occurs in the frontal lobe of the brain, which is the same area that cannabis mainly acts on. Ergo, after consuming, you should be able to think around corners, right?

As neat as that sounds, the actual link between using cannabis and creativity is more perception than fact. For anecdotal evidence, consider that I’ve written some brilliantly creative pieces after using cannabis… only to sheepishly crumple them up the next day. So, what happened? Well, we know that cannabis changes your thinking—that’s part of the reason many people use it. What’s also important to realize is that cannabis changes your perception of how you think. The idea of cannabis promoting creativity then becomes one of those chicken-and-egg questions with no easy answer.

The few scientific studies done around cannabis and creativity lead to this curious conclusion. These studies mainly look at how cannabis changes a user’s convergent or divergent thinking—briefly, your brain being able to work towards a single, “correct” solution versus the ability to generate multiple, flexible answers as a solution. Interestingly, these studies posit that small doses of cannabis have little effect on someone’s convergent thinking. However, with divergent thinking—which is more creative overall—it seems the sober control group was more creative than those under the influence.

Furthermore, when testing subjects under the influence, those who would rate themselves as “highly creative” exhibited less divergent thinking than those who rated themselves as “not creative.” From these studies, it seems that a low dose of cannabis can inspire some creativity, but only if you’re not really wired that way to begin with. A large dose, however, was detrimental to all subjects.

A flaw with these studies is that creativity is difficult to define beyond the binary of convergent/divergent thinking. Is creativity the quantity of new ideas generated? The quality and practicality of those ideas? Is it making art? Crafting? If I’m discussing creativity in terms of an artistic process, then I’d say that we’re in a 10% inspiration/90% perspiration situation. Cannabis can provide an epiphany, but your focus and enjoyment of that idea will determine its worth. Fortunately, there are many cannabis strains that can do just that.

Spinach Blue Dream ($28.95 / 3.5g; THC 18.00 – 24.00%, CBD 0.00 – 2.00%)
A bit of a hybrid, Blue Dream is a powerful strain for a relaxing yet focused experience. Sweet-tasting and tangy, Blue Dream keeps things hazy while also keeping you motivated, a great choice for evening activities.

Go Elevate Kali Mist ($26.95 / 3.5g; THC 20.00 – 26.00%, CBD 0.00 – 0.20%)
With earthy flavours tied to a citrus burst, Go Elevate Kali Mist is a classic sativa-dominant strain. The feelings it delivers are classic, too: a floating euphoria tied to some motivating energy. This is a good choice for the morning that’ll be a positive influence all day.

Tweed Chemdawg ($26.95 / 3.5g; THC 18.00 – 24.00%, CBD 0.00 – 0.10%) Sativa Dominant
Tweed Chemdawg is a sativa strain that combines the best, most potent aspects of Sour Diesel and OG Kush. With a dank chemical smell that cannot be mistaken, Chemdawg hits hard and fast before mellowing out.