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Drugs & Health Blog

Does Marijuana Make You More Creative?

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
The NIDA Blog Team

Not many people would say with a straight face that drugs like heroin or methamphetamine are good for you. And who would claim that those drugs could help you be more successful in life? 

But there are lots of people who think marijuana is different from other drugs. For example, we’ve already talked in this blog about the idea that it may have medical uses. (The jury is still out on that one.)

Some users even say marijuana’s mind-altering effect—the “high”—is also beneficial. They claim using the drug chills them out, expands their mind, and makes them more creative. Since the 1960s, marijuana has had this mystique as an aid to the artistic life.

What does science say about that?

Getting Creative with the Facts

Many studies over the years have found that marijuana indeed makes users perceive themselves as having more creative thoughts and ideas—which would help explain why so many artists and musicians tout its benefits.

But perception isn’t always the same as reality—and we know that marijuana alters perceptions! In fact, the research on cannabis and creativity suggests that even if users feel more creative, it’s actually an illusion. People may even be less creative after using it.

For example, a new study of almost 60 cannabis users in The Netherlands looked at the effects of the drug on a measure of creativity called divergent thinking—which means the ability to brainstorm, think flexibly, and come up with original solutions to problems. After inhaling a high or low dose of vaporized cannabis, or a vapor with the same odor and taste but no THC (the chemical that causes the high), the participants took a test that asked them to come up with as many creative uses for two common items (like a pen or a shoe) as they could.

The results surprised even the researchers: low doses of cannabis did not have any effect on the participants’ ability to think creatively, compared to not taking cannabis. And high doses actually lowered their creativity—by a lot.

It seems that feeling creative and being creative really aren’t the same thing.

Yet it's also true that your expectations about a drug do matter. Different studies have shown that people who are unknowingly given a placebo (something with no drug in it) instead of a drug (or alcohol) will act or perform in ways that correspond to how they expect the drug to affect them.

Marijuana on Your Mind

One study, for example, found that regular marijuana users who ate biscuits containing marijuana were less creative than a control group who didn’t eat any biscuits, and that both of those groups were less creative than a group who ate biscuits they thought contained marijuana but were actually a placebo.

It goes to show that your mind, including your beliefs about drugs, have a lot more power than you think. You don’t have to take the drug to get the effect you expect—in fact, it works best if you don’t!

What do you think? Do you know people who take marijuana (or other drugs) to help them be more creative? Do you think it helps or hurts them? Let us know in comments.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


I personally disagree with this whole article on marijuana. It is not possible to die from it and is not bad for you, in fact it reminds forgotten cancer cells how to die again, relieves stress, and there's zero deaths in history relating with weed. Henceforth, the our American flag was originally made by marijuana. People who do weed mostly do turn out successful and it does help creativity. Most of the musicians of the 20th century are inspired by cannabis. That is why it's legal in 20 states for medical purposes and legal for recreational use in Colorado and Washington. Barack Obama admitted in 2011 that he did weed as a teen and that proves your theory wrong that students who smoke the Mary Jane get lower grades and are less successful. There are 750,000 crime violations relating with weed, 0 of these crimes had anything to do with violence. They were arrested for carrying it, caught smoking it, or buying it. In any case what so ever there is no evidence that shows marijuana is damaging. If you hadn't already known it has been proven cannabis can't cause heart, liver failure or lung cancer. Weed is also not addictive. You should know these facts before writing and article on how bad weed is for you

Hi joe.  You present a lot of misinformation here.  Marijuana does not cure cancer, and people have died as a result of drugged driving and other risky behaviors related to marijuana use.  Smoking marijuana can cause bronchitis and other lung problems—such as pneumonia.  And, it's a myth that the American flag was made of marijuana or hemp.  Get the real facts about marijuana on our Marijuana Drug Facts page.

those who use marijuana tend to look at means to justify the use of a mind altering with alcohol, I ask myself how many innocent folks would be alive or otherwise healthier were it not for someone using drugs like the two aforementioned. Prohibition didn't work...I'm not sure education is having a much better result...
Actually, prohibition did work... it depends on the measure you are using. If you are looking for 100% success and no return to use. Then most things are a failure. Before prohibition, it is estimated that 55% of the adult population plus some perentage teenagers were alcoholics. Common was for men to hang out at the bars late into the evening most nights of the week. The bars became common for an evolving progression of depravity. The women would send a child down to the bar with dinner. Payday came and an excessive portion would be squandered at the bar. Alcoholism was taking a hard toll on families and children, neglect, abuse, violence, modeling of dysfunctional behavior. After prohibition and to now, estimated that alcoholism is maybe 10% plus sundry drug abuse.
"Evolving progression of depravity"? Who are you to judge the morals of anyone other than yourself?
I was actually told by a pulmonary doctor that smoking marijuana actually opens the lungs airways. I have no idea where you are getting your input from, but I believe a doctor, not some random persons shallowminded opinion.
But those people chose to drive while medicated like driving drunk it is your fault not the marijuanas fault and again smoking weed is your choice if you eat an edible it doesn't damage you at all any smoke in your lungs will eventually kill you it's common sense
Yeah people die from driving on prescribed medicine that doesn't mean the medicine should be illegal. Don't toke and drive.
someone died from a frozen flying piece of feces that fell from an aeroplane as well. Lol anything can happen
Really ? any smoke in lungs ??? are you a doc? In Ayurveda there are many herbs which is inhaled as smoke to treat some general and even chronic diseases :) don't tell anything without proper knowledge, it is about science and that works with facts and results and practicals not on your so called common sense :) :0 grow up dude.
Your entire article is all misinformation. There are no addictive substances in marijuana. You can become mentally addicted, but you can become mentally addictes to anything. And you say it doesn't cure cancer? Why would you try spreading propaganda when it has already been debunked?
It's not Mariquana's fought for the accident, it's the users fault for not having control with their mind. Mary Jane has no killed any one, your statement is invalid. For example guns don't kill people,people kill people with guns. It's all perception, the "drug" has no crazy negative side effects, it has an abundant amount of health benefits. Why do we make persscription drugs if they have a lot of problems and a pretty big death rate, when weed can help a lot of problems in people naturally with no harm? Or why is it legal for alcohol and ciggaretts to be sold eventhough both of those substances kill you physically and mentally. Oh yeah that's right money, OH WAIT legalizing mariquana can make just or even more the amount of renevue! Why is isn't legal? Something is fishy here.
Would you please learn to spell? Your inability to support your case in a mature and intelligent form only further discureges the use of cannabis. Yes, I do in fact agree that it is one's own choice to drive on ANY substance. However, the conception that marijuana is not a drug leads dependents such as yourself to belief you aren't really doing anything wrong. Now, if you had trouble understanding of this due to your fake "increase of creativity and or intellect" (by the way, wait a few days after you've stopped consuming long enough that you've already got past the withdraws and weren't weak enough to go back the supposed non-drug) to use an actual dictionary to look up what I wrote as well as that of what you had only attempted to convey. Unless of course, you aren't scared I'm right... (;
Actually, bacteria causes pneumonia.
Im sorry but 1 more thing marijuana has been helping with killing cancer cells and that is because of the CBD in cannabis same way CBD helps people when having seizures
He never said marihuana heals cancer, he just said that marihuana reminds some cells to don't die or mutate. Know how to read.
Is that why Hillary has pnuemonia?
Hey nerd, you have no idea what this plant has done for the sick including myself. Its medicine. It has been brought down to the ground and stepped on by negative FALSE propaganda.
f$#@ you man this is serious. not coll
I agree with Hi Joe on November 03, 2014
Actually you're wrong weed is addictive. So you should think about what you write before commenting.
I agree, my girlfriends hooked, tried to stop but can't
actually its not addictice i use to smoke weed 5-7 joints every single day but i quit the next three days and now i stopped for a month and haveent craved for it
Get a life with that "marijuana is absolutely harmless" stupidity. Sincerely, there are thousands of smokers like you saying the same stupid thing again and again. No, it's not good. Yes, it is addictive and when you regularly use it as an alternative to getting excited by natural means, you are a coward.
I agree....
Obama also did poorly in school. Obama smoking it shows how harmful it can be.
Marijuana puts you below the normal state of being not above it thats why it is not good for your mind but you may belive as you may it may not mess you up at the moment you are using it but in the future you will see how its not benificial for you in no way and actually worsened the way life was actually meant for you to be.
Much agreed^^****
People go to the emergency room and get into accidents due to smoking weed. Weed is psychologically addicting. Spend some time in the ER or a treatment facility and then you'll understand more.
i disagree this drug doesn't make you more creative it effects your brain and it's bad news
I completely disagree with this article as well, no there has not been any records of death by the use of marijuana, why can it be prescribed to cancer patients if it doesn't help the cancer? I believe it all depends on the person and how it affects them. I will however admit that weed does have a bad side affect such as short term memory loss, and loss of motivation.

Hi tyedyehippie, marijuana is sometimes prescribed to cancer patients to help relieve the side-effects of cancer treatment such as nausea and loss of appetite.  It can also help with pain management.  However, mariijuana does not help or cure the cancer.  

For more information, check out our recent blog posts about medical marijuana here

Medicinal marijuana does not help with the cancer itself...all it does is reduce the pain and uncomfortable symptoms of the disease...Many seriously ill and terminally ill patiens use it to allow them a better quality of life while they are in cancer treatment or in their last stages of life....
Propaganda to the max.
How can anyone deny medical marijuana works? How about Charlotte's Web for epilepsy or MMJ for pain, as in Colorado. Giving out bad information to teens doesn't work any better now than it did in the '70s. If anything, these tactics cause youths to distrust authority even more.
methamphetamine does start in nature from the ephedra plant otherwise known as mormon tea and heroin begins as papaver somniforum or opium poppy
Are you saying that eating poppy seads is as bad as shootin heroin? Is drinkin mormon tea as bad as methamphetamine? Crack comes from coke wich comes from coka, but crack is still crack, not coka.
Lmaoo but meth crack coke all this is processed with weed all you do is grow from the ground then you clip off the buds and let it dry then smoke it lol
I saw statements from both sides which I would disagree with. I don't really see how you can compare marijuana (a naturally growing plant) to heroin or methamphetamine which are man made or synthesized drugs, yes I know its classified as a schedule 1 drug but its not really because its extremely easy to become addicted to. You can't really make general statements such as"we know that marijuana alters perceptions. In fact, the research on cannabis and creativity suggests that even if users feel more creative, it’s actually an illusion". Marijuana effects each person differently. Marijuana does not really cure cancer except on a very few cases dealing with certain types of cancer. For cancer patients its mainly used as pain control, and as a appetite booster. * I have personally found that with the right amounts of marijuana (not excessive amounts) I think very clearly and make very rational decisions. I smoke quite regularly to help me with anxiety and MDD (Major Depressive Disorder), but it doesn't affect me negatively. I've been smoking for six years now and I graduated high school with straight A's and now I'm in college, still making good grades, and working two jobs successfully. Bob, I don't feel I need to justify my use of marijuana , mainly because its none of your business nor your right to dictate how others live, but also because if you looked at all the facts of marijuana you would see that it does in fact have many helpful uses. That is why it was has been used medicinally since before 2,700 B.C. as recorded in history. Also, NIDAMinds I recommend using sources other than your own page to back up your information.
it's long term affects are, and can be, unequivocally negative on ones mind and psyche. it indeed makes people in general more introspective which in turn makes them more peaceful(no violent related crimes). worst of all in the short run it makes me lose motivation to do anything. lastly I believe it certainly should not be a schedule 1 drug, as there are know medical uses, however it should be a schedule two or three because of the simple fact that we, as people and researchers, have not closely studied it's long term effects on the developing mind and how it could negatively impact it.
PREACH. I have a happy relationship with mary jane and I am a straight A student. I've used it for 12 years and I haven't had a single negative thing happen to me from it.
This is by far the best answer and post, including the article itself
Legalize because some people actually use it for medication. To eat, sleep, or take there pain away! And trust me it works for most epople who don't take advantage!!
thanks for sharing the information .
Some of these guys that argue for Marijuana prove the argument of studies that show a loss of IQ of 8-10%. Considering 100 is mid normal range, IQ is that of a dishwasher, 85% is a dishwasher with supervision.
You do realize that IQ is based on a point system not a percentage system. Also the study your quoting for the "8-10%" actually says a drop of up to 8 POINTS NOT PERCENT. The guideline for average IQ range is between 85 and 115 POINTS, below that down to 70 is considered dull to borderline deficient and under 70 is deficient. You have obviously done little to no research or fall into the under 70 POINTS category. Before you try to come back and insult my intelligence i would like to inform you that i have an IQ of 143 placing me 2 POINTS shy of classifying as a genius and yes i smoke cannabis to help treat chronic migraine headaches. I would recommend that if you plan on insulting someones intelligence you at least make yourself appear somewhat intelligent next time.
I smoked marijuana heavily for about 28 years and then stopped because I was well on the way to a lung disease as I could hear my chest gurgle and bubble away as I lay at night trying to get to sleep. Marijuana makes you self conscious and paranoid after long term use, some of my friends ended up having mental health issues from marijuana use. I would always tell myself how it wasn't harmful and that is is a gentle drug compared to other drugs but it has its bad side like any drug will. Marijuana controlled my life for many years and I'm glad to get my life back as I am now a better person for it.