Cannabis is a complicated and controversial plant. It is slowly evolving and being recognized as a miracle plant instead of being viewed as just a drug. Still, there are so many surprises riding the way when it comes to this plant. Now and then, scientists discover a new application or potential benefit of this plant and it takes the world by surprise.
Industries are competing to release cannabis-infused products that can bring good health and wellness. While this is the primary reason for interest from people across the world, one cannot forget its roots of popularization – recreational marijuana.
Even when Cannabis wasn’t socially or legally accepted, there was no denying that it is an incredible plant. Cannabis has been of enormous interest to a large portion of the population long before legalization hit. For example, marijuana is closely associated with creative and artistic abilities.
It seems to act like a catalyst for creative skills in artists and musicians. People claim that cannabis can enhance creativity, which is why artists often use this plant while going for their best creations. But is it true that weed can improve your creativity?
Cannabis and the endocannabinoid receptors
The interaction of cannabis with our bodies is an interesting place to start this. Like the various systems that support our bodily functions, the endocannabinoid system of the body is also an important component.
This system is responsible for the metabolic well being of an individual and directly relates to energy storage as well as the transport of nutrients to different parts of the body. It has several endocannabinoid receptors located in different organs of the body. These receptors act as hubs for triggering chemical reactions and secretions in the body that correlate to the functioning of various organs.
These receptors, known as CB receptors, are the binding site for cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), which constitute cannabis. These cannabinoids increase the levels of natural cannabinoids in the body and, thus, bring balance to the system and our overall health. One of their properties is an increased sensitivity of the sensory organs that helps users enjoy an enhanced experience.
Different strains of weed have varying compositions of cannabinoids that have different effects on the body. For example, Indica weed strains are extremely relaxing and help the person to feel calm and blissful. Whereas Sativa increases one’s energy and alertness. It also makes people go through a rather intense feeling of euphoria. These effects are why some tend to believe that cannabis enhances creativity.
But most claims regarding the effects of marijuana in enhancing creativity use evidence regarding the interaction of cannabinoids with receptors located in the creative portion of the brain. When a cannabinoid binds with the CB receptors in the body, it changes the levels of neurotransmitters of dopamine and norepinephrine. These chemicals directly associate with your mood and mindset and enhance the intensity of introspection. It offers a new perspective and makes you cherish things, that could be the reason behind the effects of cannabis on creativity.
Picking the creative nerves
Regular cannabis users show different personality traits from non-users. They are more relaxed and open to new experiences as compared to non-users, according to studies. For people who have a creative bone, marijuana could be an aid to enhance concentration and focus on their work. It can calm the mind and help you zone completely into a creative space. And all of this while drowning the noise from your surroundings which will help you deliver the work better. Over the years, several studies have shown that cannabis makes users construe a more positive perception of their creativity.
But the effect of marijuana to enhance or improve creativity in an average individual may not be the same. Marijuana could be the muse to step over creative hurdles such as writer’s block and give the push required to dedicate time to and focus on the work. Cannabis increases the levels of dopamine in the body, which kicks off laziness and hesitation and brings the individual to feel motivated and focused. But whether it can initiate creativity in any individual is a debatable area. There is not enough research to support the fact that marijuana could seed creativity in all individuals.
What does science have to say?
The efficiency of medical marijuana as a treatment for various ailments is visible from the rapidly expanding boundaries of legalization. Facilities such as the Canada weed dispensary are proof of the medical benefits of marijuana. But the debate about whether marijuana actually increases creativity or just creates an illusion of it has been the center of attention for years.
While various theories exist to explain the relationship between cannabis and creativity, understanding the level of scientific evidence to back up each of these theories helps us explore how cannabis works in our body. A study that aimed to understand this relationship in detail involved participants in three groups. One group consumed marijuana biscuits, another group did not consume the biscuits, and the third was in a placebo environment.
The results showed that the placebo group presented the highest level of creativity, whereas the group which consumed the marijuana biscuits displayed the lowest. This evidence backs up the claim that the relationship between cannabis and creativity is more about illusion and perception rather than reality.
But several counter studies that are providing strong evidence to support cannabis in this debate are also available. A study involving 3mg THC cigarettes showed positive results by improving divergent thinking abilities in cannabis users. Divergent thinking involves brainstorming multiple possibilities to solve a problem or a situation. But the study also showed that higher doses could cause a fall in these abilities. Another study showed that people who assessed themselves as not creative thinkers showed improved divergent thinking abilities after consuming cannabis.
One of the most significant studies in this area was published in the Journal of Consciousness and Cognition. It involved the use of the “Big 5 model” to evaluate the 979 undergraduate students’ that were a part of the study. The study involved the use of self-evaluation as well as an objective evaluation based on divergent and convergent thinking abilities.
The results of the study indicate that, although there was no significant difference between divergent thinking in marijuana users and non-users, cannabis users outperformed the rest in convergent thinking abilities. This result proves that although cannabis may not have a direct effect on the creativity of individuals, it can surely create a better environment for it.
Another study from 2015, which was done by Leiden University, shows that lower levels of THC helped to increase the dopamine concentration in the body. It positively impacted divergent thinking abilities, whereas it had the opposite effect when delivered at high levels.
The body of research available in this segment is still far too less to arrive at any conclusive answers to the question. Cannabis can be an aid to creative thinkers, whereas it can help less creative people feel motivated and liberated to try something new. With more research happening on this plant across the world, we might get closer to the right answer to this question very soon.