New Study Reveals Effect of Smoking Cannabis on Creativity

First Posted: Oct 11, 2014 04:29 AM EDT

A latest study challenges the popular belief that smoking cannabis makes them more creative by stating that the illicit drug, in fact, hinders creativity.

Cannabis is one of the most commonly used illegal drugs in the world and is known to be as addictive as heroin or alcohol. Also called as marijuana, this drug causes mental health problems and affects heart health. The chemical that makes the users feel high is called THC (delta-9 tetrahydroccannabinol). The use of this drug is also known to cause drug-induced psychosis.

One of the popular beliefs is that smoking cannabis boosts creativity and people's thinking becomes more original after smoking a joint, but researchers at Universiteit Leiden found just the opposite. Their finding reveals that cannabis with high concentration of THC - the psychoactive ingredient- does not improve creativity.

The researchers studied the effects of cannabis use on creative thinking. The study included only cannabis users who were further divided into groups of three with each group having 18 members.

One group was given cannabis with a high THC content i.e. 22 mg, the second group was given a low dose i.e. 5.5 mg and the third group received a placebo. The high dose was equal to three joints smoked together and the low lose was equal to just a single joint. The participants were not aware of what they were given.

Using a vaporizer, the researchers administered cannabis. After this, the participants were made to perform certain cognitive tasks that tested the two types of creative thinking mainly: 'divergent thinking' - producing rapid solutions for given problem - and 'convergent thinking' - finding the only right answer to the question.

The study led by Lorenza Colzato found that smokers, who ingested low dose of THC or the placebo, did well in the cognitive tasks and intake of high dose had a detrimental effect on the participants' ability to generate many solutions as possible to a given problem.

On the other hand, they found no sign of any increased creativity in their performance. The improved creativity, according to the researchers, is just an illusion.

Colzato said, "If you want to overcome writer's block or any other creative gap, lighting up a joint isn't the best solution. Smoking several joints one after the other can even be counterproductive to creative thinking."

The finding was documented in the journal Psychopharmacology.

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