A study named Inspired by Mary Jane? Mechanisms Underlying Enhanced Creativity in Cannabis Users that was published this month in the journal Consciousness and Cognition has found that the personalities of cannabis smokers are likely to be more creative. Researchers at Washington State University completed a study of 412 users of cannabis (couldn’t they have found another eight to make it 420?) and 309 who didn’t indulge. At the time, the 412 were unstoned.
Participants underwent psychological tests. The stoners self-reported that they were more creative, although they didn’t have more creative works to show for it. Stoners were more likely to be extroverts and open to new experiences. And they were better at convergent thinking – they had more ability to resolve problems by uniting various ideas; existing knowledge was manipulated by standard procedures.
The author of the study, Emily LaFrance, a graduate student at the university, had become interested in the topic because “a number” of her favourite artists were well-known for using cannabis – think the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Hunter S Thompson and Mylie Cyrus. It was Dylan who introduced the Beatles to cannabis on August 28 1964, after which many people claimed their sound changed radically, moving away from “bubblegum pop.” Apple founder Steve Jobs claimed, “The best way I would describe the effect of the marijuana and the hashish is that it would make me relaxed and creative.” And Omar Lye-Fook, a dead famous British soul singer, was short of inspiration while writing his 1990 debut hit, There’s Nothing Like This, but completed the song in one sitting after smoking cannabis. Cannabis was claimed to have been the cause of these artists’ creative success. LaFrance set out to discover if it was the cannabis itself that was behind their triumph.
Why this is
LaFrance explained that cannabis users generally have different personality traits, and it was their openness to experience that was responsible for their creativity. Other studies have found that smoking cannabis raised creativity directly because it bettered divergent thinking, where the brainwork is spontaneous and free-flowing and unexpected connections are drawn. LaFrance described the results of prior studies as “somewhat equivocal,” although one was by Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, an esteemed name, which found that the (non-get you stoned) cannabidiol which constitutes as much as 40 percent of cannabis had a “restoring, correcting or modifying” effect on “physiological functions.” Dr. Alice Weaver Flaherty, a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School, highlighted that if cannabis calmed a very anxious creative person down, it would improve their creativity.
This was the first study to examine the effect of personality on cannabis usage and creativity. Yes, you’re likely to be more creative, but this is because you’re more adventurous, as evidenced by your use of cannabis in the first place.