by the Prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the
government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be
enforced. - Albert Einstein
Cannabis has the effect of slightly increasing alpha-wave activity in the brain, and increasing blood flow into the right hemisphere, which is associated with holistic, nonlinear thought. Alpha waves, and right-brain thinking, are generally associated with meditative and relaxed states of consciousness, which are, in turn, often associated with creativity.
From Charles Baudelaire to George Carlin, Shakespeare to Carl Sagan, Louis Armstrong to Paul McCartney, Norman Mailer to Jack Nicholson, the list of accomplished creative people who have claimed a positive influence from their use of cannabis is truly impressive.
I’ve personally spoken with many accomplished people who made claims about how essential cannabis was for their creative process. For example, when I interviewed the late comedian George Carlin, he told me:
“Pot…changed my thinking. It fostered offbeat thinking…Then it changed my comedy….I became more myself. The comedy became more personal, therefore more political, and therefore more successful…So, suddenly, I also became materially successful. People started buying albums. I had four Gold albums in a row.”
[…] Anecdotes about cannabis and creativity abound, but what does the scientific research say?
The Beckley Foundation—a nonprofit organization in England that supports pioneering, multidisciplinary research with cannabis and psychedelic drugs—is presently funding a two-part study on cannabis and creativity, that is being conducted by neuroscience researchers Valerie Curran and Celia Morgan at the University College London.
Curran and Morgan are currently testing the effects of cannabis use on creativity in 400 subjects, and are then using neuroimaging technology to observe the neurobiological changes in the participants that are associated with creativity, while they are under the influence of cannabis.
Timothy Francis Leary (October 22, 1920 – May 31, 1996) was an American psychologist and writer, known for his advocacy of psychedelic drugs. During a time when drugs like LSD and psilocybin were legal, Leary conducted experiments at Harvard University under the Harvard Psilocybin Project, resulting in the Concord Prison Experiment and the Marsh Chapel Experiment. Both studies produced useful data, but Leary and his associate Richard Alpert were fired from the university.
Leary argued that psychedelic substances, used at proper dosages, in a stable set and setting could, under the guidance of psychologists, alter behavior in beneficial ways not easily attainable through regular therapy. Leary’s research focused on treating alcoholism and reforming criminals. Many of Leary’s research participants reported profound mystical and spiritual experiences, which they claim permanently altered their lives in a very positive manner. According to Leary’s autobiography, Flashbacks, LSD was given to 300 professors, graduate students, writers and philosophers and 75 percent of the test subjects reported the experience as one of the most educational and revealing experiences of their lives.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Leary was arrested regularly and was held captive in 29 different prisons throughout the world. President Richard Nixon once described Leary as “the most dangerous man in America”. +
“I didn’t start smoking pot until about five years ago. I thought pot made you stupid. I bought into it just as much as anybody did. I realized when I was like thirty years old that I was tricked. I was like…you gotta be fucking kidding me.” — Joe Rogan