Cannabis has enjoyed a long reputation as an effective tool for unleashing our inner-creative. But what do we mean when we talk about “creativity”? Is it the means to some desired end, or is it perhaps the end itself? By its very nature, creativity is a concept that is so subjective and personal that it’s difficult to define in any meaningful way.

 Perhaps then the question really becomes to ask what drives creativity in the first place?  Can we really manipulate and amplify those instincts with the help of cannabis?

While there is still much to learn about how cannabis and creativity influence each other, the existing research points to a strong link between cannabis use and creativity. Here we break down what we know about how cannabis, and how it helps allow us to “think outside of the box”. 

First up, a quick look at what the science says about cannabis use and creativity.

How We Get “High”; a brief explanation

Once ingested, THC (the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis) travels to and binds with the cannabinoid receptors in our brain. It then begins to adjust the slow-drip levels of chemicals being released into our brain- specifically the ones responsible for pleasure, stress, and anxiety.

Typically there will be a boost of “good” chemicals in your brain (like dopamine, which is responsible for the “euphoric” feeling of being high) while relaxing the “bad” chemicals which can cause stress and anxiety.

These changes generally lead to a better over-all mood and reduced anxiety. In short, cannabis is effective in helping you achieve a more relaxed and open mental-state. This kind of mental state tends to be the breeding ground for introspective thought and reflection. 

But there is more to the equation than just chemistry.

How Our Thoughts Form Our Vision  

To better understand the link between cannabis and creativity, we also have to understand a little more about how our thought process works. In studies, researchers specifically look at two types of thinking; convergent and divergent thinking. 

  • Convergent thinking is when we look for one answer or solution to one clearly defined problem or situation. This is a pretty black-and-white, straightforward approach to problem-solving.
  • Divergent thinking is when you approach a more abstract problem in a comprehensive way. That is to say, it is a little more dynamic and accounts for multiple possibilities and outcomes. This is what we typically call “outside of the box” thinking. 

Divergent thinking thrives when dopamine levels elevate, such as it will when THC is introduced into the equation. It is also the type of thinking that researchers pay the most attention to when studying creativity. This style of thinking is often linked to creative individuals and solutions.

One explanation for this association suggests that the combination of conditions cannabis creates allows our brains to simply relax. It allows us to roll back the curtains of self-doubt and overthinking. It dials down the background noise to let our minds run free and connect whatever dots we see fit.   

But again, this is where things get a little murkier.

Strains, Dosage, & Other Variables

One factor that must be taken into account is the huge amount of variation between strains of cannabis. With different chemical compositions and levels of THC, individual strains can vary greatly from one to the next.  

According to one study in 2014, the specific dosage of THC plays a significant role in its observed effect on creativity when participants responded to word-association questions. When given a lower dose of (5mg), participants recorded higher scores in categories such as the number of answers given, variation in responses, and originality of their responses.  When the same participants were given a much higher dose (22mg), they scored lower across all categories. This appears to show that there may a threshold at which cannabis/THC consumption can actually begin to diminish creative access

Leafly bar graph demonstrating subject performance in cannabis creativity study
Image courtesy of Leafly

In another study published in 2012, researchers split-up participants into two groups; those who consider themselves to be creative and those who don’t consider themselves to be particularly creative. With the non-creative group, cannabis seemed to boost their access to creative thinking. In the highly-creative group, there was little to no difference in access to creative thinking recorded. It raises some interesting questions about how our unique body chemistry and genetics play a role in the creative process if nothing else. 

So, does cannabis really boost creativity?

Considering the research behind how cannabis can influence creativity, it seems reasonable to draw a link between the two. THC can be an effective tool in helping us dial in our brain chemistry with creativity in-mind.

It should not be understated that everyone has their own unique experiences when using cannabis. There are plenty of variables that can affect these experiences, some known and some not. It’s best to take your time, get comfortable, and do a little bit of exploring to figure out what works for you.

As always, start simple. A good jumping-off point is any kind of Sativa-dominant strain. They are widely considered to be the best cannabis strains for creativity and uplifting thought. With so many strains, hybrids, and frankenstrains out there, there’s bound to be something that gets your creative juices flowing. 

(And remember- if you really need to get down to work creatively, start with a small dose instead of smoking your brains out!)

CHEEBA CHEEBA’S RECOMMENDED STRAINS FOR CREATIVE EXPLORATION

  • Super Lemon Haze: This is a classic Sativa-dominant hybrid strain that gets its name from its tart, citrusy flavor notes. This strain is the perfect companion for a long creative session. It is often noted for its uniquely energetic high that leaves users feeling lively and alert. 
  • Blue Dream: Another Sativa-Dominant hybrid, Blue Dream really hits the sweet spot between relaxation and invigoration. This strain is famous for delivering a quiet, euphoric body-high while keeping you mentally alert and focused. Don’t this one to leave you melted into the couch though. When you need to roll up your sleeves and get to work, this is the strain for you. 
  • Jack Herer: Jack Herer is the result of breeding three different strains together into one unique and creatively functional Sativa strain. Bred to bring you a peaceful, clear-headed high, this strain is perfect for when you just want to sit back and let the universe come to you.
  • White Shark (by Color Cannabis): White Shark is a particularly high-THC Sativa strain that is noted for beginning with a strong head-high, followed by a euphoric body high. This is the strain when you need to start winding down for the day but still need to finish strong!

Links to these strains in Kelowna:

Links to these strains in West Kelowna:

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