People are inherently creative. And while humanity’s rich library of creative works has been produced by artists who don’t have working relationships with cannabis, it has undeniably influenced millions of artists throughout recorded history. Studies have shown that cannabis fuels our frontal lobe – the area associated with creativity – bringing forth and amplifying the imagination that lives inside. We’ve also learned that THC increases our production of dopamine – a neurotransmitter serving as our brain’s self-reward system, causing feelings of euphoria and confidence. Because of cannabis’ individualized effect, it can be difficult to put that uncharted experience in a box. However, we can observe its influence on prominent artists for measure – because for many, cannabis is their most powerful instrument.
Does art imitate life? Or does life imitate art?
The marriage of cannabis and creativity is legendary. Artists have turned to cannabis when searching for deeper engagement with their craft, and with their inner being. Think of the most famous and influential artists of our time – The Beatles’ affinity for cannabis is well-documented and prevalent in their music. Like with Doctor Robert – cannabis helped them evolve from the blueprints of rock and pop, which has immeasurably shaped the sounds and styles of the last 50 years. Their voice inspired an entire generation of youth to embrace and experiment with who they were – to love one another, and learn to live in their own peace. That message still continues to this day.
The Lost Generation – the infamous writer’s group in post-WWI Paris (including Ernest Hemingway. T.S. Elliot, and Scott Fitzgerald) – were notoriously influenced by Alice B. Toklas’ pot brownies she’d provide at social gatherings. The way Van Gogh plays with movement in his world, through his use of color and brushstrokes… the way countless artists use color and textures in their art – all illustrations and projections of our connection to the natural world. As cannabis helps us open the door to our subconscious selves, for many, creative expression is able to flow more freely, while sometimes illuminating us to our deeper fears and desires.
Most importantly, cannabis can be an instrumental aid in deep personal expression. It can help us see beyond the veil, to the greater hidden depths of our inner beauty and our darkness. It allows the artist to enhance their senses – embracing every possibility, stripped of the anxiety that comes with self-deprecation (a trait that most artists are plagued with). Cannabis allows the artist to exercise divergent thinking, (another great effect of dopamine), giving them the strength to step out of their own way, and unearth thoughts and concepts they’d otherwise ignore. It helps us to our truth. And if the artist is truly brave, they will stop at nothing to get us to that truth. Cannabis can help us get there, while cushioning us from the harsh tone our greatest critics – ourselves.
John DiBella is a medical marijuana advocate, owner of The Sanctuary Wellness Institute, and a writer. When he’s not writing blogs about medical marijuana, he enjoys hiking, camping and sailing.