Cannabis and Creativity: Is there Really a Link?

For decades there has been an argument about cannabis boosting creativity. Is it real? We’re going to take a look at how cannabis can, in fact, boost creativity. It takes finding the right strain to help release the chemicals in the brain to trigger its reward system. We’ll get into that as we discuss cannabis and creativity – is there really a link?


Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain. It has multiple functions in the body. It’s considered to be a “central power-driver” for everything your brain does. It plays a role in our dreams and may play a role in relationships (love and lust). It may also play a role in femininity, addiction, motivation, infidelity and learning. Why infidelity? Dopamine activates your body’s reward system – so if something makes you happy or makes you feel good, you’re more likely to do it even though it may be wrong.

When dopamine is activated, it sends signals throughout the body from the central nervous system. The reaction of dopamine in the body is dependent on what type of neurons it mixes with. It may help increase focus and motivation while helping improve your mood.

The chemical helps regulate how perceptions and pleasurable experiences are felt. Eating, stimulating activities (including sex) and other indulgent behaviors may seem like “must haves”.

Dopamine and Cannabis

Cannabis use may help trigger the release of dopamine in the body. Too much, however, may leave your body unable to produce enough of the chemical itself. Cannabis helps your brain stimulate the brain’s reward system, allowing it to spontaneously release dopamine.

The reaction between cannabis and dopamine is not direct, it’s an indirect response. Cannabinoids in cannabis react with the endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoid receptors are located throughout the body, including in the brain where dopamine neurons are stored. These neurons don’t have cannabinoid receptors, but cannabis is able to bind to CB1 receptors on GABA neurons and that is what helps activate dopamine in the body.

Natural cannabinoids in the body are known as endocannabinoids. The endocannabinoids help release dopamine as typical activities are performed. Activities like exercise can help induce the release of dopamine, and some cannabis strains do help promote energy and motivation – which may help you get in a better workout.

Depending on your personal cannabis tolerance, you may need more or less to activate the release of dopamine. This is why it is suggested to practice microdosing – using small amounts of cannabis at a time. The idea surrounding cannabis use isn’t to sit around and see how high you can get – the idea is to use a little at a time to help alleviate whatever is troubling you whether it is depression, stress, a health condition, pain or inflammation as examples.

THC is more likely to increase dopamine in the body on a short-term basis. CBD, however, is not likely to stimulate the release of dopamine. Using cannabis in larger doses for a long period of time may decrease your body’s ability to naturally release dopamine.

Should you find that your body’s natural reward system isn’t engaging as it should and you’re a heavy cannabis user, it may be time to take a break. Some suggest taking a 48-hour break from cannabis altogether to reset the body, but if you have used cannabis for a decade or longer, you may need to abstain for a longer amount of time – such as a month or so. Resetting your body’s tolerance to cannabis may help it learn to release dopamine in a more natural way and re-introducing cannabis in small doses may aid in a more regular release of dopamine in appropriate levels.

Strain Choice

Strain choice does matter. Not all cannabis strains will boost creativity. Hybrids and sativas are more likely to help you find your creativity than an indica. Some indica strains, however, are able to relax your mind and body while allowing the body’s reward system to activate.

Strains that boost creativity include:

  • Kali Mist
  • Jack Herer – one of the most well-known cannabis strains in history
  • Chemdawg
  • Purple Haze – a sativa with an indica name that also induces happiness and euphoria
  • LSD
  • Berry White – a strong indica that may help you have happier dreams
  • Tangie
  • Jillybean
  • Sour Dubble
  • Pudding Pop
  • Superglue

There are dozens of other strains that also work to increase creativity while also boosting motivation, focus and overall happiness. For those with depression and mood swings, these strains may also help you find some happiness. Feeling rewarded, or satisfied, often helps induce happiness.

It is important to do a little bit of research on available strains in your local area to determine which option would be best for your creativity needs. If you need creativity with a boost of energy and some uplifting, a sativa may be best. If creativity, stress reduction and sleep are what you need, an indica strain may be ideal. When you need a combination of effects, seek out hybrid options.

Proper Dosing Techniques to Release Dopamine Safely

Use small amounts of cannabis to properly release dopamine in your body. Using too much may overstimulate the brain and cause it to send improper or mixed signals. Try just three to four hits at a time, allow the strain to produce its effects and work to activate that internal reward system.

Wait until the effects of the strain have completely worn off before indulging in more. Give your brain a break before making it work to release dopamine again. This helps maintain healthy cognitive function while not negatively affecting your short-term memory and decision-making skills. Sure, brief lapses in response or memory may happen, but that is natural and again, is only temporary. Try not to keep your brain in a fog where your decision-making skills are continually hindered as this may have negative long-term effects.

Closing Thoughts

So, can cannabis really help your creativity? The answer is yes – when you pick the right strain. Using the right amount of cannabis is also an essential part of properly inducing creativity. Keep your personal tolerance in mind as using a strain that is too strong for your tolerance may actually trigger the release of too much dopamine and may make you feel uncomfortable or confused. Cannabis should just assist the brain, not fully control it.