Thanks to the explosion of the for-profit-pot-industry, the marijuana world has grown tremendously. There are a ton of different marijuana products available now. But no matter how many new ways to ingest the greenery are invented, cannabis plants can still be broken down into two fundamental categories: sativa marijuana and indica marijuana. These are the two overarching strains available and users report different effects from each.
Indica weed is commonly believed to give you a "body high." Indica strains of cannabis relax your muscles, increase your appetite, as well as your dopamine intake. Generally speaking, indica marijuana makes you sleepy, happy, and hungry.
Sativa weed, on the other hand, is known to give you a "head high." Sativa strains of cannabis get you thinking and make your brain race a mile-a-minute. Sativa marijuana is also known to make you somewhat more creative.
Although many users report that sativa marijuana makes you more creative, science attesting to that fact is mixed. But we can extrapolate from what we do know to take some educated guesses on why marijuana might make you more creative.
Despite the conception of the "tortured artist" we all have in our heads; depression and anxiety actually inhibit creativity. It's hard to focus and think clearly about an artistic endeavour if your brain is anxious, thinking about a thousand other things. It's similarly hard to focus on what is in front of you if you're severely depressed, wallowing in the past, or fearing for the future.
Marijuana, for many, is famously good at mitigating the effects of depression and anxiety. Sativa cannabis, which increases your brain's intake of serotonin is particularly good at this. It follows naturally, then, that the elevated mood that marijuana brings would also put you in a good headspace to be creative.
Hyper-priming is a fancy term for your brain's ability to make connections between seemingly unrelated concepts. Hyper-priming is what allows you to make a connection between a tortilla chip and Karl Marx, a gummy worm and the global financial crisis, and so on.
A 2012 study found that consumption of marijuana triggered the brain's capability to "hyper-prime" and made it easier to make those connections. As any creative person knows, hyper-priming is what allows for their creative bursts of inspiration. One minute they’re staring off into space, thinking about their lunch, and in the next, they’ve figured out how to revise the plot in the screenplay they’ve been working on.
The use of weed only intensifies this phenomenon. Of course, this means you'll come across some bad ideas too. But all you need is one good idea to help get the gears rolling to solve whatever it is that you’re working on.
Similar to hyper-priming, divergent thinking allows your brain to generate creative ideas by going down many different roads of thought at a time. It is believed that smoking weed aids in divergent thinking. As anyone who has smoked weed (especially sativa) knows, it can really make your brain run laps in your skull.
With weed, you can explore avenues of your mind you would never have even thought traveling down. You can explore new ideas, generate new conceptions of your work and yourself, and get the ‘feel’ of something. It's almost a spiritual experience....except the science doesn't back it up.
A recent study actually found that stoned people were worse at divergent thinking than their sober counterparts. There is an important caveat to take into consideration here, however: only the smokers who consumed highly potent strands of weed were impaired mentally. Those that smoked a smaller or less potent amount of weed performed just as well in divergent thinking tests at the sober participants.
The other important thing to consider here is that divergent thinking is not the end-all-be-all of creativity. Actually quantifying creativity in an empirical, scientific way is actually what makes it so hard to measure it, never mind deciphering weed's influence on it.
Because of this, we may never be able to scientifically determine whether or not weed makes us more creative. Luckily, although it means bupkis to the scientific community, we have a wealth of anecdotal evidence on our side.
Steve Jobs is perhaps the most influential inventor of our time. He ushered in the smartphone era we're currently in and innovated countless products in his time at Apple. He was also a famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) drug user, including LSD and yes, marijuana.
Steve Jobs has actually been quoted saying, "the best way that I could describe the effects of marijuana or hashish is that it would make me relaxed and creative." If weed could make Steve Jobs more creative, it shouldn't be a stretch that it would also work for plebeians like us.
Another example is Seth Rogen, the current the king of pot in pop culture. He practically created an entire genre dedicated to stoners with his films Pineapple Express and Knocked Up. He depicts the stoners in his films as lazy deadbeats, but Rogen himself is a huge stoner. And in his real life, Rogen is an incredibly successful, creative writer and movie star. It's hard not to think weed was partially an impetus for all of his success. I wouldn’t mind trying whatever he was smoking to help him write Superbad (lol).
There are also countless other famous and successful pot stoners in our midst. Snoop Dogg, Bob Marley, Willie Nelson, Barack Obama, and so many others who can attest to the mind-boosting properties of marijuana.
Admittedly, the scientific literature on marijuana and its creative benefits are inconclusive. But it's important to remember that marijuana is a drug. All drugs react differently depending on the person using it. No one-size fits all.
What may make you creative and care-free, may make someone else anxious and intellectually blocked-up. It's important to know yourself, and know your limits... smoke wisely my friends:-).