Biggie Smalls said weed was behind his seminal debut album and Brian Wilson said it helped him write Pet Sounds. Bob Dylan, The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix were all noted potheads using the drug as a creative aid. Now, an investigation by PolicyMic looks into the science behind that claim.
While there are few studies that explicitly investigate the link between music and cannabis use, the basic facts are that THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, produces elevated levels of dopamine, which has the effect of lowering inhibitions, allowing thoughts and ideas to flow more freely.
In his oft-quoted “speculative exploration,” earth scientist Peter Webster explored the connection between marijuana and music, claiming that its most remarkable effect is a greater capacity to appreciate musical stimuli, which he credits with helping the development of jazz in the 20th century. Webster wrote that “cannabis consciousness” aids artists in better contemplating their own work.
There is also debate raging about whether marijuana enhances divergent thought — the ability to link seemingly unrelated concepts — considered the cradle of creativity. One study conducted by University College London found that marijuana enhances the capacity for divergent thought.
Another performed by Temple University found a correlation between self-reported frequency of marijuana use and scores on creativity and “adventuresomeness” tests. However, a number of studies have shown the exact opposite, and many scientists question the validity of such tests.
PolicyMic‘s investigation ultimately concludes that, as Webster wrote in his study, “It is not that cannabis consciousness itself ‘produces’ ideas that are creative… but that cumulatively, over time, the kind of perception and thinking initiated by cannabis leads one to be generally more open to alternative and perhaps adventurous ways of seeing things which enrich normal consciousness.”
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