Marijuana and Musical Geniuses


Marijuana and Musical Geniuses

Music is a therapeutic. It has the power to heal your soul and body. Music is an art, a science; where our words fail, we use the language of music to express our emotions.

Music plays an important role in our lives. Music is usually linked to the mood of an individual — a certain song can make us sad, happy, relaxed, and energetic. Music has a profound effect on your brain and body. We have a physiological response to music — children dance on the beat of music even before they can talk. There is an inherent association between our social behavior and songs, as lyrics represent the harmonic verbal communication.

Musicians have long cited the connection between marijuana and their music. Is it only a myth or is there some hard scientific evidence to back it up? Because of the many political, religious, moral and even scientific stigma associated with studying marijuana for beneficial purposes (other than medicinal), not many scientific studies have undertaken and those that have were mostly dismissed as being unscientific and without merit. We will explore the connection between marijuana and music and see what science has to say about the connection.

Altered State | Musicians have long known the connection between the creativity in their music and marijuana. The great gravel-voiced Louis Armstrong, the “What A Wonderful World” creator, credited gage or ganja with many of his musical creations. Other musicians who have cited marijuana as playing a part in their musical genius include The Beatles, Bob Dylan, OutKast , Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, Alanis Morissette , Willie Nelson , Snoop Dogg , Jimi Hendrix, Tupac and Bob Marley, Biggie Smalls to mention some of the most popular ones. The whole hippie movement of the 60s and 70s was based on being in this altered state and letting the feelings of love and peace take over. Much of the music at that time had the undertone of peace, love and anti establishment especially against the government and the Vietnam War. That being said, is there a scientific connection between marijuana and musical creativity? Although there are very few studies that specifically link marijuana to music, the real connection comes with the effect that THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that gives you the high. Smoking marijuana releases elevated levels of dopamine in the body. The dopamine hormone gives you the signature euphoria and calm of the marijuana high. It is in this state that musicians can lower their inhibitions and let thoughts and ideas flow more freely. Brian Wilson indicated that in this state he was able to switch off his self-consciousness while keeping his self-awareness. The connection to marijuana and music creativity seems to be universal according to earth scientist Peter Webster in his publication “Marijuana and Music: A Speculative Exploration “. He noted people in this altered state have a better appreciation and are more receptive to music forms they would otherwise not listen to.

Creativity Link | Is there a link between marijuana and creativity? Studies at University College in London have shown that marijuana increases the brain’s ability to form a link between apparently unrelated ideas. This is also known as divergent thought and is the holy grail of creativity. At Temple University they found a direct correlation between the frequency of smoking marijuana and scores on creativity tests. They found that the higher the marijuana use, the higher the creativity scores. Other earlier studies have shown the exact opposite results. The main arguing point is what researchers consider “coherent” and “divergent” responses to study questions. According to the studies it will take lots of marijuana usage to experience any creative benefits. It seems to be a cumulative effect and will take time for the creative part to kick in. But, music also takes talent, dedication, intelligence and a wealth of experience to draw inspiration from. Experiences you can’t get if you are constantly stoned! There are so many conflicting scientific studies on the effect of marijuana on creativity and music; it is hard to come to a definitive conclusion. Some studies indicate a link but that link only seems to take effect after a lengthy use of marijuana. Other studies show that smoking marijuana actually slows down the creative process.

So What Then?

Music is a therapeutic. It has the power to heal your soul and body. Music is an art, a science; where our words fail, we use the language of music to express our emotions.


Whom do we believe? | Creative types shouldn’t use marijuana as a crutch but as a catalyst for inspiration like many of the musicians we mentioned earlier in the article. Maybe Louis Armstrong had it right when he said that weed should be used as an assistant by creative people not as the only inspiration. Bob Marley knew that too much of one thing isn’t good for you and was quoted as saying “you have too much herb, it might hurt you.”

The Plant Itself | Marijuana or Cannabis sativa is one of the most recognizable plants. Almost everyone has seen at least the picture of the ubiquitous, green cannabis leaf in whether in the news media, text books or in drug prevention literature. It is so popular that it is a brand in itself. According to a survey, a pot smoker is busted every 45 seconds. Many parents and society at large is so paranoid about this weed. It is considered as one of the most commonly used illegal drug in the U.S. and the world.

Cannabis is the third most popular recreational drug in the United Sates, behind Alcohol and Tobacco. According to an estimate 25 million Americans have smoked Marijuana in the last year. Marijuana is far less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Every year more than 50,000 people die of alcohol poisoning and more 400,000 deaths results out of smoking tobacco. To date no deaths have been recorded as a result of marijuana. Having said all this Cannabis is an established medicine for many illnesses such as cancer, AIDS, spasticity, anorexia, chronic pain, glaucoma, migraine and arthritis. There are many other illnesses as well where Cannabis provides relief.

In the US possessing marijuana and transporting it for the purpose of medicine is allowed by the court within certain prescribed quantities. Presently as many as 60 U.S. and international health originations express their support for providing immediate legal access to medicinal marijuana under strict physician’s supervision. Cannabis usage for healing purpose predates recorded history. The earliest known written reference is available in the 15th century BC by Chinese Pharmacopeia. Historical evidences as old as 1213 BC suggest Ancient Egyptian used Cannabis for many treatments including treatment for eyes, inflammation, cooling of uterus and for administering enemas. In India it has been known to be used since 1000 BC as an anesthetic, anti-phlegmatic and treatment to a wide variety of human maladies. Cannabis is still one of the most important and widely used drugs in rural areas of Indian subcontinent to treat asthma, bronchitis and the loss of appetite.

Marijuana is an annual plant categorized in two main strains. Cannabis Sativa strains is the taller and longer flowering variety and with longer growing season while Cannabis Indica strains is characterized by their shorter stature and fatter leaf structure. The buds from the Indica strain are covered with glandular trichomes referred to as “crystals” or “kif”. An Indica strain is used to make hashish and gives their users lethargic feeling referred as “couch-lock” or “stoned”. Sativa strains on the other hand have thinner and longer leaves with elongated buds. Sativa strains are bred for hemp purpose and for medicinal application and brewing tea. Traditionally the plant is grown in soil but recent advancement in hydroponics has allowed cultivars to increase the rate of growth and the final yield. The plant needs adequate amount of water and right pH level along with lights, nutrients, sufficient air, ventilation and temperature for its healthy growth. The future holds lots of promises in the form of technologies, information and genetic material than ever before benefiting growers. Moreover the internet has provided a forum for growers to work together and benefit by deriving solutions from their collective experiences.

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