“We’re not the first ones to ask this question, obviously. The effects of marijuana on creativity have been studied extensively by everyone from prestigious PhDs in university laboratories to white kids with dreadlocks in their college dorms. The findings have been a bit of a mixed bag.
One of the keys to creativity is divergent thinking, meaning the ability to view things in a multitude of different ways. It’s what makes creative people creative. It’s what makes people, upon viewing your creation, say, “I’ve never thought of it that way,” or “Wow, what was he smoking?”
With that in mind, a 2010 study by Morgan, Rothwell, et al. showed that one of marijuana’s primary properties is its ability to increase hyper-priming, or your ability to make connections between seemingly unrelated concepts. It’s the cause behind those famous and well-parodied “Aha!” moments when a high person suddenly realizes a deep truth about himself after noticing something inconsequential like a dead worm on the sidewalk; or how a weed-fueled conversation can go from whether or not the guy from ABC’s “Nashville” was also in an episode of “Boy Meets World” (he was) to the pros and cons of Taco Bell quesadillas in no time flat.
Marijuana also causes your brain to release the neurochemical called dopamine, which gives users the signature calm, euphoric feeling. It also helps reduce your inhibitions and turn off your “inner-editor” while writing, drawing, or brainstorming. People high on marijuana often describe their thoughts and feelings as moving more freely, almost flowing through them.
Last, research suggests that cannabis blurs the lines between a person’s five senses, allowing for an increased capacity for wonder and awe. It enhances your ability to marvel at things, somehow allowing you to experience events in a profound, internal way.
But it’s not all cheese puffs and genius works of art for weed smokers. A study done in 2010 by Bourasa & Vaugeois claims that the supposed creative benefits of marijuana don’t hold up statistically. The study showed no positive effect from marijuana on divergent thinking and that it may even have a negative impact in this area.
So, how do we explain the disparity between studies? Maybe creativity is tougher to define than we’re led to believe. Maybe it’s more complicated than a series of tests or response times engineered by psychologists.
Even if we were to agree that divergent thinking is the most important aspect of creativity, it’s still only one aspect. Weed isn’t some magical substance that can turn any old schlub into Picasso. True creativity also requires intelligence and a whole lot of hard work.”