Lucida 3 February 2015
Although marijuana users often say the drug enhances their creativity, new research has found just the opposite. Contrary to popular belief, marijuana decreases creativity.
Marijuana/cannabis is known for its ability to significantly alter the mental processes of its users. Anecdotal accounts sometimes cite this mental alteration as a beneficial effect of cannabis use and point toward an increase in creativity as evidence of such an effect. In a study published in October 2014 in the journal Psychopharmacology, a team of researchers from the Netherlands looked for signs of increased creativity in people who consume low doses and high doses of the main marijuana/cannabis ingredient THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). These researchers concluded that, depending on the amount of THC consumed, cannabis intake either does not alter users’ creativity levels or actively reduces creativity.
Cannabis and THC
All three forms of cannabis — marijuana, hashish and hashish oil — contain THC as their main, mind-altering chemical constituent. As a rule, marijuana has the lowest THC content of all cannabis products, while hashish oil has the highest THC content. Keeping this fact in mind, evidence compiled by the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates that the THC potency of the typical batch of marijuana has risen sharply in America over the last several decades. In fact, much of the marijuana available today has a THC content once only associated with hashish, a concentrated cannabis product.
THC belongs to a group of substances called cannabinoids. Marijuana contains roughly 100 cannabinoids, all of which access the brain through sites on nerve cells called cannabinoid receptors. Inside the brain, THC activates a region known as the pleasure center, triggers an alteration of thought processes, distorts sensory perception, distorts time perception and reduces the human ability to make or access memories and focus attention. The chemical also substantially alters mood, although the specific manifestations of mood-related change vary from person to person. THC’s impact on the pleasure center largely accounts for the ability of marijuana/cannabis to trigger the persistent brain changes that mark the onset of cannabis dependence and cannabis addiction. Roughly 17 percent of all marijuana consumers in America meet the criteria doctors use to diagnose such an addiction.