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Cannabis and Creativity: Using your whole brain

Mind KEY / Career  / Cannabis and Creativity: Using your whole brain
Cannabis' intellectual creativity capacity is being shown in recent research.
Recent research suggest cannabis is beneficial in opening the mind to be more creative. Image by Kerstin Zettmar.

Cannabis and Creativity: Using your whole brain

By Marla Funez


Creativity is not just creation, but the ability to see many solutions to a problem. Current research indicates cannabis’ capacity to strengthen our intellectual creativity and ability to think freely.


Where is creativity in the brain?

A common misconception of creativity is where it comes from. Many people think those who are “left-brained” have a linear thought process and use more logic, while the “right-brained” are creative and more inclined to use their feelings. The assumption is that people who use more of the left hemisphere of their brain are not as creative as people use more of the right hemisphere of their brain. This is a misconception because, as sports psychology writer Christopher Bergland explains in an article for Psychology Today, creativity comes from all over the brain.

Creativity and logic work together in subjects that seem the least probable, such as figuring out the logic behind a complex mathematical equation. This requires examination of the problem at different angles; or figuring the golden ratio into works of art.  

In the book, “Creativity: The Human Brain in the Age of Innovation” by Elkhonon Goldberg, the questions regarding where creativity resides and its nature are explored. Goldberg argues that there are no specific regions in the brain meant for a complex function like creativity. While he agrees the right hemisphere of the brain is activated during neuroimaging studies, the left hemisphere has been active in other neuroimaging studies, as well. At least the frontal lobes of the brain must be necessary for creativity, says Goldberg. For example, patients who had undergone a lobotomy lose most mental functions.  Therefore, creativity must be a function that different components of the brain participate in.


The biological reach of cannabis

There is no doubt cannabis affects the brain. Like creativity, cannabis affects different components of the brain. Since the root of creativity stems from the brain, then it is probable that creativity and the cannabis cross paths in some way or another.

Cognition is necessary for creativity, it puts thoughts in order and allows understanding and learning. A journal article from the Department of Psychosis Studies in King’s College London suggests that the use of cannabinoids can “improve cognition in cannabis users.”  Without order and understanding, creativity may be a hit or miss every time for an individual.  

Alila Medical Media provided information about the delivery process of the higher cognition from cannabis. Similar to creativity, cannabis roams different regions of the brain. This is because when in use, it affects the neurons of the brain via neurotransmitters. Cannabinoids prevent and induce certain stimuli depending on dosage and strain. Depending on the type of strain being used, cannabis can either impair cognitive abilities, and therefore the ability to be creative in a coherent sense, or it can improve cognitive abilities and alleviate anxiety. CBD strains are the elements of cannabis that relieve anxiety most. THC strains make the brain highly active and cognizant of its surroundings and induce higher learning, which suggests higher creativity.


Cannabis stops anxiety from hindering creativity

An investigation conducted by Creativity Research Journal determined “[people] with lower levels of anxiety showed heightened creative potential under oxytocin.”

Oxytocin is not cannabis, but the aim of the study was to reduce anxiety to successfully improve creativity. Cannabinoids like CBD can have a similar effect according to Alila Medical Media.


Cannabis’ intellectual creativity capacity

There are a variety of uses for cannabis, and creativity is just one on a long list. Some people like to listen to music to get their creative juices flowing while others prefer smoking cannabis or eating a CBD gummy to get into a zone of creativity. YouTuber, PsychedSubstance, suggests that if growth in creativity is the aim, smoking or consuming cannabis alone produces the highest results of creativity as opposed to consuming cannabis in a social situation.

This is not news. A 2017 article by Beca Grimm and published in Rolling Stone reports that creatives such as Stephen King, Jimi Hendrix, Carl Sagan, Hunter S. Thompson, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Willie Nelson, and likely many more, have used cannabis for expanding their creativity.

Creativity is not only important for creative professions. It is essential for businesses as well. A 2012 article published by Business Insider quotes a 1988 security clearance application Steve Jobs filled out for the Department of Defense, stating that cannabis relaxed him and made him more creative.

Creativity can flourish without the use of cannabis. However, cannabis can help an individual’s ability to be creative under specific circumstances and each user’s experience with cannabis is different. Some users may seek to block anxiety from the creative process, or to expand their scope of creativity.

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