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Does Marijuana Enhance Creativity?

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via cannabisculture.com

Does Marijuana Helps Get the Creative Juices Flowing

By Sean – Herbal Incense | Spice Incense

We marijuana smokers often attribute many benefits to our beloved weed. Many great writers, musicians and thinkers throughout history have used marijuana, including Oscar Wilde, Carl Sagan, Bob Dylan and Hunter S. Thompson. We smokers are admittedly keen to ascribe benefits to our harmless herb, and the plethora of cannabis users who report increases in creativity only adds fuel to the fire. But is there really any truth to the claim?

A problem we have to face head on is that much of the evidence is anecdotal. Whilst anecdotal evidence isn’t as reliable as hard data, it is still worthy of consideration. The reason you have probably personally experienced (or heard stories of) some form of increased creativity after smoking cannabis is that most smokers feel that it is the case. Whether it’s an off-kilter idea, a giggle-inducing mental image, or a genuine realization regarding the nature of being, cannabis undoubtedly seems to increase creative thought. This could be attributed to a variety of things, but it is still a trend, and one that is important to this debate.

Carl Sagan, the 20th century astronomer, was a dedicated stoner. He received countess awards for his contributions to science, and the National Science Foundation stated that his “research transformed planetary science. […] His gifts to mankind are infinite.” While making leaps in astronomy, he also penned a series of essays on marijuana under the pseudonym Mr. X. He claimed it allowed him to appreciate art for the first time, increased his level of appreciation for music and afforded him valuable insights on a variety of topics. He even penned essays on social, political and philosophical subjects — a drastic departure from astronomy — and made arguments considered valid by expert commentators.

He saw the creativity associated with cannabis as a dualistic experience. He said that one half of the mind is the creator, conjuring images, linking seemingly disconnected concepts and bestowing a generally bizarre sense of perception. The other half is the observer, appreciating and considering the work of the creator. Sagan also documents the creation process for his uncharacteristic essays, in which he was taking a stoned shower with his wife, and then began to draw Gaussian distribution curves (in soap) on the wall to describe the origins and invalidities of racism. He was also a firm believer that the ideas you have when you’re high are valuable and worthy of sober consideration. His stoned self even left frustrated messages for his sober self in an effort to be taken more seriously!

Sagan’s essays are a beautifully documented summary of the general trends in anecdotal evidence for marijuana’s creative benefits. The limited amount of scientific research on the effects of cannabis seems to support the anecdotal theory. Firstly, Sagan’s concept of the dualistic stoner mind seems to correlate with the functions of the hemispheres of the brain. The left brain is concerned with reasoning, logic, numeracy and language. The right brain is the creative, imaginative and insightful half. Research has shown that marijuana increases blood flow to the right brain, which suggests an increase in functioning. Increased right brain function could explain the increased creativity found in cannabis smokers.

A study from 2010 found that cannabis increases our ability to connect disassociated concepts. The phenomenon is called hyper-priming, and it enables you to form mental connections that wouldn’t ordinarily occur to you. If I was to present your sober mind with the word “cat,” it might come back with “dog,” or “fish,” but your stoned mind would respond with something left-field like “judgmental” or “chair.” This increased ability to form new connections between semantic (meaning-related) groups occurs in the hyper-primed (baked) state, and continues throughout abstinence from cannabis. This means that a weed smoker will still have the ability to perform these mental gymnastics when they haven’t been smoking.

The implications of this research for the benefits of marijuana for creativity are clear. The reason that the Beatles, Allen Ginsberg, Led Zepplin, Oliver Stone, Kevin Smith, Willy Nelson and countless other creative types have smoked cannabis is that it genuinely gives them a valuable shift in perspective. It open’s one of William Blake’s “doors of perception” and allows smokers to examine the world around them through new eyes. Separate ideas become connected, and the intricate web of reality reveals more of its complexity, or even its surprising simplicity. These links are the building blocks of artistic metaphor, and provide insights outside the mental boundaries of non-stoners.

The evident creative benefits of marijuana provide even more reason that it should be legalized. Art extends throughout history, and caters to a deep need within the human psyche. Anything which contributes so strongly to creating insightful art is a benefit to us as humans, and when it is also medically beneficial and safe, there is no valid reason whatsoever to outlaw it. We all know this, but the reality still doesn’t match the facts. We have to continue to take action and produce some new, brilliant plan that will bring this grand injustice to the attention of all of the big-wigs and policy makers that brand us as criminals! So…it’s time for a joint.

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