Cannabis: A Supplement To Enhance Creativity?

Through all times people tried to achieve the best they can – any way possible. Beatles’ legendary songs most likely would not exist without experimentation with acid, and it is not a secret that many of pop legends famous tracks like “I Am the Walrus”, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “Tomorrow Never Knows” were inspired by LSD created hallucinogenic trips. Arguably the most influential painter of 20th century – Pablo Picasso experimented with groundbreaking techniques, including Cubism, which it is believed was a direct result of use of opium, morphine, and hashish. Creator of the iconic company “Apple” Steve Jobs agreed that he used LSD and marijuana at the time when he developed the main idea for his company. “It was a positive, life-changing experience for me, and I am glad I went through that experience,” he said.

 

They are extraordinary people that used extra help for their iconic and amazing work and inventions. But extra help sometimes is needed for a regular people as well. Isn’t it?

 

PubMed.gov published a research, which claims that 34% of university students reported the illegal use of AHD stimulants, also known as “Smart Drugs” or “Brain Enhancers” such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Modafinil, instead of LSD and cocaine, just to optimize brain function. Most of these drugs impact attention centers of the brain and have specific effect – they increase our impulse control, working memory and helps to stay awake for up to 72 hours, which is arguably helpful for students, who due to various of reasons loose concentration, lack creativity or time to target deadlines or prepare for exams.

 

 

It is illegal to use these drugs, as most of the time they should be prescript to heal mental illnesses, like autism or Concentration Deficit Disorder (CDD), and not regulated usage might lead to serious complications. However, students find ways to get these drugs. There raises another great discussion; if it is ethical to use drugs to increase mental performance, as some people claim that it might be not for the students, who do not use drugs, to compete with those, who use them.

 

I decided to take a look to specifically one drug that is used to heal some mental and physical illnesses, by nowadays artists – rappers to come up with great lyrics and by students. The most controversial drug of our days – cannabis.

 

Cannabis is still illegal in the UK, however, it is legalized in some states of the USA and European country – Netherlands. There is research and scientific proof about benefits of weed for health. But does it really improve mental performance as well?

 

To begin with, we have to understand, how the human brain works, and how creativity is created by our neurons, in order to have an idea, of how and if the drug really helps?

 

Neurons are cells that process information in the brain, by releasing chemicals called neurotransmitters, from the axon of one neuron to the dendrite of another they change electrical charge of the receiving neuron this way passing signal. These signals work together with billions of other neurons and create complex configuration within milliseconds all over the brain. This happens every time any physical or psychological activity is made. While smoking marijuana person gets cannabinoids, molecules that are actually processed in our brain in small amounts, different from molecules that we get by using other drugs or alcohol. These cannabinoids consist of tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, which consist a natural transmitter called “anandamide”. Usually, neurons become temporarily unresponsive after transmitting electrical charge, to maintain a controlled and calm manner of the brain, but cannabinoids interrupt this approach in some parts of the brain. They remove parts of neurons that are already active and create space for thoughts, imagination, and creativity to manifest itself in the form or electronic signals.

 

So it is scientifically proven, that the chemicals that exist in cannabinoids help to change the flow of the thoughts.

 

But how does it work in practice?

 

In recent years use of marijuana increased among UK citizens.

Most of them use it for relaxation and “out” time, however, I manage to find and interview three Coventry University students, that claim that when they need extra “motivation” for studies, it can be found in smoking weed.

 

Students are from different backgrounds and nationalities: Rara from the Philippines, Jules from UK and Borisov from Bulgaria. Due to cannabis’ legal standing in the UK, their real names will be kept anonymous. They all have been asked same questions with no possibility to interact and discuss questions while answering.

 

Why do you smoke cannabis?

 

Jules: It helps me to think about upcoming tasks with a piece of mind instead of feeling anxious.

 

Rara: It frees my soul. It makes me do things I would never do, keeps me from procrastinating.

 

Borisov: It helps me to be calmer when I have to write coursework in the last minute. It helps me to concentrate and keeps me away from panicking.

 

Does it help you to concentrate/increase creativity?

 

Jules: It helps me to think outside the box and to create ideas that lead to more ideas I wouldn’t have thought of before.

 

Rara: After using my attention is full and complete on one thing. It feels that thing I am doing at the moment I was doing all my life. That one thing is my passion at the moment. My life. My story. I’m living it with weed. And I won’t stop. It will be the only thing that will put breath into my lungs, into my mouth, and into my heart. All of the nerve cells, every blood vein and every single brain cell is electrified. My ideas are overflowing out of my mind when I’m on weed.

 

Borisov: While writing report or essay for university, weed helps me to concentrate because my mind relaxes from everything else and I can think only about the topic that I need to think about.

What do you create after using cannabis?

 

Jules: It helps me think of new questions to think about on any subject. Such as when researching and preparing an essay, I will think more out of the box questions.

 

Rara: I create words. I have great ideas in writing, in life, in business and in whatever I haven’t even heard or seen yet.

 

Borisov: What am I creating after using weed depends on what am I smoking it for. If I smoke for university I create coursework, if I smoke at a party the only thing I can create is to make the people around me laugh.

 

How much in time scale your productivity improves?

 

Jules: Mostly it helps me to keep concentrated on a subject or task I am forking for an hour or more.

 

Rara: I think in an hour or two I could write a whole novel if I wanted to.

 

Borisov: I am not sure, but it definitely helps. Just because if I write in the last moment I don’t think about time and that helps me not to panic.

 

Do you notice any side effects?

 

Jules: After few hours I do feel more tired and if I get hungry my motivation tends to go. But my thought process still carries on and I can start to think about more topics. I sometimes go off from a target and can start to think about irrelevant things.

 

Rara: Maybe eating a lot. Also, I became not very active. I used to be able to run 5km on a regular basis and I did yoga almost every day. I could do handstands and cycle through Humber Av with 5 resistance and felt nothing.

 

Borisov: I think it sometimes makes me lazy.

 

Have you ever used any other drugs to improve your performance?

 

Jules: No, I haven’t used anything else.

 

Rara: One time. It was to write 2000 words for my dissertation proposal. I ended with 4000 words. It was too much. I don’t think I’ll do it again.

 

Borisov: I have never used any other kind of drugs in my life and I do not think I will go further than weed.

 

If you take a close look at the answers of these students, there is a tendency of describing the effect of the drug – calmness, concentration, increased imagination, ability to be not distracted by not necessary thoughts and actions. And that there are no serious side effects apart from reduced activity. However, scientist say, that “Smart Drugs” can do greater damages for the human body,  mainly because there are chemicals, that may negatively affect brain work in long term, also cause insomnia and other sleeping problems.

 

However, the main question is – why do students have to use weed and other drugs to complete University? Are University courses too difficult, or maybe there is not enough time given to complete tasks necessary to finish a degree? Or maybe truth is that human always needed an extra help, to free their imagination and creativity?

 

From the Chinese Emperor Shen Nung who used weed in 2727 B.C. through all the human history until 1915, when it was prohibited for nonmedical use in the U.S. people used it as a medicine, as an alternative to alcohol and as a brain enhancer. Maybe if it would be legal, people who need an extra help would use cannabis, like our ancestors, instead of LSD, cocaine, Ritalin, Adderall and Modafinil.

 

 

Viktorija Getneryte

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