Some of the most epic artists in history took cannabis before they grabbed their paintbrush. But why does cannabis make some people creative?
Firstly, let’s take a look at what the science has to say about the well-established connection between cannabis and creativity.
In a well-known study entitled, ‘Investigating the interaction between schizotypy, divergent thinking and cannabis use,’ researchers looked at people defined as having schizotypy. Schizotypy is a theory that proposes that we all have certain personality traits that exist on a spectrum. When we say that someone has schizotypy, we’re saying those personality traits are prominent for them. Those with the highest levels of schizotypy are schizophrenic. As this Psychology Today article explains, schizotypy can be described as a “watered down version of schizophrenia.”
The interesting thing is that while those who are considered to have schizotypy certainly have some issues, they tend to be more creative due to their divergent thinking processes. That study showed that taking cannabis increased creativity in some test subjects, especially those considered to be less schizotypic.
Many people who have taken cannabis will tell you, they feel more creative afterwards, and that jives perfectly with the science behind the theory. Cannabis shifts one’s perspective on life on a temporary basis, activating what some call, the “Third Eye.” Users report being able to problem solve better, and many a fashion designer has taken cannabis before putting pen to paper.
While science attempts to give us some indication as to how cannabis can make a person more creative, it doesn’t answer the question, why? And therefore, it joins the ranks of all the other things about the human brain which have been studied in the lab, without ever even getting close to the reason why.
In Berkley’s Medical Journal, ‘Issues’, Jasen Talise notes that ‘cannabis increases blood flow to the frontal cortex of our brain, which is responsible for divergent thinking.’ It also stimulates dopamine release which is known to be connected to happiness as well as creativity.
In Talise’s words, “Novelty is a chief motivator for creative individuals, and studies have shown dopamine to evoke within us the desire to discover new ways of looking at the world, the notion of creative drive again here arising. In promoting novelty-seeking, dopamine encourages us to accomplish tasks that we want to accomplish.”
Another major factor here is that cannabis is well-known to soothe anxiety in many people. As when one is free from the worries of the world, they can express themselves better and in more creative ways.
While the scientific evidence is lacking when it comes to why cannabis makes some people more creative, as it’s hard to quantify, it has been used for millennia in religious practice and to stimulate creativity.