Article written by
Tina MagrabiSenior Content Writer
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
Cannabis may affect the regions of the brain linked to creativity. Some of the great artists and thinkers of our time have credited cannabis for their creativity. Apple founder Steve Jobs is reputed to have smoked marijuana on a weekly basis in the 1970s. Iconic musicians like Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix have also been cited as cannabis enthusiasts.
Learn whether cannabis use can make you more creative, how the plant affects your brain and how you can choose the right products to give you a burst of inspiration.
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How Cannabis Affects the Creative Brain
An increase in cerebral blood flow in the frontal regions of the brain when consuming cannabis may stimulate creativity in some people. Specifically, the frontal lobe of the frontal cortex is believed to be the hub or center of creativity in the brain. When the chemical compounds in cannabis (especially the psychoactive substance THC) reach the frontal lobe, you may feel more creative than you normally would.
This is because cannabis affects the type of thinking that the brain performs. Convergent thinking, in which a person focuses on problem-solving, is less likely when experiencing the intoxicating effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Divergent thinking, which involves a free flow of thought and creativity, is more likely when experiencing the effects of cannabis and THC. However, for some people, the relaxing and psychoactive effects of THC may stimulate creativity to some extent.
Another study suggests that, in those who think of themselves as being low in creativity, cannabis may help increase verbal fluency. Interestingly, cannabis had no effect on verbal fluency in those who thought of themselves as highly creative.
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Dosing for Creativity
Researchers point to low doses as more beneficial for high creativity than larger doses. However, other sources, such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse, claim cannabis has no positive effect on creative output and that higher doses decrease creativity levels.
Dr. Lewis Nelson, chair of the department of emergency medicine and chief of the division of medical toxicology at Rutgers University, affirms this notion.
“I can assure you that people who get a very high dose of THC won’t be creative,” Dr. Nelson asserts. “They’ll be very sleepy and very paranoid…low-dose cannabis in the right population would increase creativity.”
The “right population” in Dr. Nelson’s view encompasses those who are not creative people initially. But even here, the “data are fairly mixed,” according to Dr. Nelson, and there is no dose of cannabis that can guarantee a creative burst in any individual.
Dosing should always be done with regard to your individual tolerance level rather than for any perceived benefits like creativity. Our advice to beginner cannabis consumers is always, “start low and go slow.” The same advice applies to dosing cannabis if you would like to feel more creative. Consume a small to moderate amount of cannabis slowly and see how you feel before consuming more.
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How to Pick the Right Weed to Enhance Creativity
A blend of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids is generally recommended to maximize any therapeutic benefits of the cannabis plant. The entourage effect sets into motion as all these chemical compounds work together, optimizing the plant’s therapeutic qualities.
Certain cannabinoid/terpene profiles are potentially shown to help with creativity. The cannabinoid THC is most likely to increase divergent thinking and increase creative output. Likewise, the terpenes myrcene, caryophyllene and limonene may help some people tap into their creative sides.
As far as routes of administration, some cannabis users report that edibles and smokable products boost creativity more than other delivery methods. Topical cannabis products may have the least effect on creativity due to how the body absorbs them and how they reach the brain. Products applied to the skin, including CBD topicals, do enter the bloodstream but may not penetrate the brain in sufficient amounts to have strong effects.
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The Bottom Line
Lower doses of cannabis may make some people feel enhanced creativity. But not everyone will feel creatively inspired by using cannabis, and higher doses may actually impair creativity and other cognitive functions in some. Smoking and eating cannabis may be more effective in sparking creativity than applying cannabis topically.
Explore the potential creative benefits of cannabis with a medical marijuana card. Leafwell’s talented team of physicians is here to guide you through the application process in our convenient virtual clinic.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Does CBD make you creative?
CBD interacts with various receptors in the human body that could enhance creative thinking, such as serotonin receptors. Not everyone will feel more creative when using CBD, but some people report an enriched creative process after consuming the cannabinoid.
Can edibles make you creative?
Consuming cannabis edibles is an effective way to feel both physical and mental effects. Edibles are known for their potency and long-lasting effects (up to 24 hours), which means that they could potentially spark creative thinking in some people.
Lower doses of edibles (and any other type of cannabis product) have been shown to elevate creative or divergent thinking more than higher doses. Plus, with edibles, it’s always prudent to consume smaller amounts and lower doses of THC to prevent a negative experience.
Does indica make you creative?
Sativa-dominant strains like Jack Herer and Durban Poison are better known for boosting creativity as well as energizing the body and mind. Indica-leaning strains like Northern Lights and Strawberry Banana, on the other hand, reportedly make people feel calmer and sedated. However, these are generalizations, and sativa and indica varietals will have unique effects on each individual. That is to say, you might feel inspired to create an abstract painting while smoking an indica strain, and another person might simply want to relax on the couch.