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As an aspiring writer at the age of 18, I made it my duty to thoroughly test the hypothesis that pot can enhance or improve our creative abilities. I want to explore this topic in some depth; many of my clients lately have been interested in looking more deeply at their cannabis use.
I can't deny that in my early days pot seemed to give me the creative boost that I was looking for. I'd often sit in front of a blank page or Word document wondering how to begin my next big writing project.
My over-active analytical left-brain basically stymied my attempts to let the juices of inspiration flow without restriction or self-censorship. Creativity is a right-brain phenomenon, and we are long overdue for an integration of our two hemispheres so that we can operate at full capacity.
The idea of only using 10 percent of our brain sounds pretty depressing to me, and I've always been curious about ways of tapping into the reserves of our innate human intelligence.
The first time I tried pot as a teenager I certainly didn't feel a creative boost of any kind, but I definitely enjoyed the effects! This kept me coming back for more, and soon I was an official high school stoner. This was great at first since I suddenly found myself much more socially connected to my fellow cannabis connoisseurs.
At first I limited my use of pot to the weekends, but soon THC found its way into every avenue of my life. The first time I got high before my writing class I felt very paranoid and on edge, as though my teacher would suddenly point to me and call me out on my red, glazed-over eyes.
I took a deep breath and focused on the blank page in front of me. My pen started moving in spite of myself, and soon a short story was born. I read my piece aloud to the class, certain that I would be laughed at and found out for the stoner I had become. Again, to my surprise I saw my classmates nodding in approval and earned some brownie points from my teacher as well.
This gave me a renewed sense of pot-fueled confidence. Soon I was smoking in my room and fervently writing about every topic I could think of. Many of these early pieces were total flops, but some resonated with me even after I had quit smoking dope for many years.
So the question remains: Does marijuana actually increase the creative potential of many artists? The short answer is that it depends on the person and many other interrelated factors. My own personal answer is that pot is subject to the law of diminishing returns; the more I smoke, the more I have to keep smoking more in order to achieve the desired effects.
In my days as a novice pothead I would be able to take a small, "one hit wonder" and be on top of the world for a good few hours. The creativity was flowing strong, and my muse Mary Jane and I were well into our short-lived honeymoon phase.
What a fickle lover she can be! Before long I was treating pot as an end unto itself by getting high just for the sake of getting high. Previously, pot had played more of a supporting role in my life. I would smoke with friends, enjoy a movie or a video game, and then get on with my life.
Suddenly, weed had taken center stage and everything else had to be pushed to the side. I would not even consider doing anything creative or work-related without an ample supply of THC flowing through my system.
The anxiety I'd experience if I was running low or out of weed altogether become more and more pervasive and crippling. I would buy larger quantities of the strongest stuff I could find, and yet I was still only achieving normalcy at best.
At this point, the dam of creative flow had all but dried up. My writing was dull and uninspired, and often riddled with basic grammar and spelling errors. When I tried to work my mind would be consumed with thoughts of taking the next hit—making it rather hard to focus and let the work just flow naturally.
This has been my experience using cannabis as a means of creative expression. I found that by quitting for a long period of time and getting healthy, my creative powers gradually increased organically. I was able to write much better sober than I ever did while high, as long as I took good care of myself and did my own inner healing work.
I don't want to imply that my experiences are in any way indicative of how others will react in similar circumstances. I've always had a rather addictive personality, and so I've had to be very careful about substances in general, lest I repeat the mistakes of my earlier years.
It all comes down to the individual and their own subjective experiences and reactions with pot or any other substance. Many famous artists are able to maintain a good work ethic and creative output while consuming enough cannabis to take down a large mule.
Others like myself can fall into a deep "pot hole" where the initial benefits quickly diminish and what was meant to be a muse or inspiration becomes the main focus of one's attention.
A wise friend once told me, "When in doubt, go without." If we're in doubt about whether or not cannabis or another substance will help us in any way, we would be wise to err on the side of moderation or abstinence.
I wanted to share my own personal experiences with you, as many of my clients today are interested in discussing the pros and cons of pot, especially after Canada's recent legalization of recreational weed.
If you're interested in exploring your own marijuana use or would like a sounding board for any other issues in your life, I would be happy to talk with you at any time. Until then, may natural intelligence and creativity flow abundantly in your life. There is a creative genius in all of us and there has never been a better time to start letting it out into the world.