The biggest killer on the planet is stress, and I still think the best medicine is and always has been cannabis – Willie Nelson
When we talk about the relationship between cannabis and music, we often think of joint-claden musicians getting—sigh—groovy. However, research suggests a broader spectrum of musical experience when playing under the influence of cannabis. There are obviously some superstar performers who approve of the plant, but can we find a scientific link between marijuana and music?
[Cannabis] is a thousand times better than whiskey. It is an assistant and a friend – Louis Armstrong
Note: the term “cannabis” refers to the Cannabis Sativa L. plant family, which includes both marijuana and hemp (the latter responsible for CBD products).
While there are limited studies linking marijuana and music, there is currently NO research into CBD and music, specifically. However, CBD may boost creativity and make you feel more present in the moment. This lends musical cannabis users some much-needed creative brainpower, but we’ll discuss more CBD-infused musical experiences in a bit.
Herb is the healing of a nation, alcohol is the destruction – Bob Marley
For now, let’s set the stage, answering some of the most pressing questions on the relationship between cannabis and music. First, what does the science say about music and cannabis? Do cannabis products affect your sense of timing, tonal perception, or rhythm? And for the less musically-inclined cannabis users, can the plant change listening to music?
Cannabis and Music According to Research
According to a 2002 study by Jörg Fachner, the Co-Director at the Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research, “Since the beginnings of jazz [early 1900s] the connection between cannabis, music and creativity has been discussed and politically exploited.”
It makes me feel the way I need to feel – Snoop Dogg
Fachner—who is also a Professor of Music, Health, and the Brain—states that cannabis can influence our perception of time. “There is a feeling of time being stretched or expanded.” Fachner’s claims are supported by various research studies involving cannabis, dating back decades (the first scientific analysis of cannabis and music was published in 1944 and is still used as a cornerstone of the topic today).
What other conclusions can be drawn from Fachner’s report?
- Cannabis can slow the perception of time, which may affect music playability either positively or negatively.
- In studies involving cannabis users listening to music, the majority of participants reported “perceiving tones and rhythm better after cannabis intoxication.”
- Cannabis seems to improve ear frequency thresholds, perhaps working like a “psycho-acoustic enhancer,” according to Fachner. However, contradicting studies suggest that cannabis-induced changes to listener behavior are learned, not innate.
- And perhaps most importantly: Cannabis users hear with greater intensity, allowing for “an intensified receptive state, providing altered metric units of time and intensity perception, which can be used for music products.”
Is There a Relationship Between Marijuana and Music?
Yes, there is indeed a scientific link between cannabis and music. According to Fachner and others, cannabis (predominantly marijuana) seems to overtly affect how we perceive sound intensity, tones, rhythm, and more.
Marijuana helped me write Pet Sounds – Brian Wilson
So does cannabis make you a better musician? Not necessarily. Remember that music is a subjective art. As such, there is no right or wrong answer. Furthermore, some genres of music support improvisation. This trend is seen more among cannabis users. According to Fachner’s report, musicians under the influence of cannabis typically add more improvisational notes than sober musicians. Genres like jazz, punk, even disco celebrate breaking from musical norms to deliver this obscurity.
I smoke a lot of pot when I write music – Lady Gaga
And if you’re wondering if cannabis will make you better at playing music, you should first ask if you plan on playing Mozart or Miles Davis. Depending on your musical experience and style, there may be two completely different answers.
The Link Between CBD and Creativity
We know that there’s some kind of link between music and cannabis, both for making music or listening to music. Unfortunately, there are no direct scientific studies examining CBD and music.
But that’s not to say that we can’t link CBD to musical experience ourselves! In fact, anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD can boost your overall creativity. For starters, CBD is anxiolytic, reducing anxiety. Users claim that the cannabinoid allows them to be present in the moment, relaxed, and more fulfilled. These feelings may expand your musical experience, allowing you to overcome mental roadblocks while creating artistically.
Cannabis and Music: A Relationship in Development
Cannabis acceptance is increasing worldwide. As a result, we are beginning to see more cannabis studies emerge every year. In time, we should know a lot more about CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids. This includes subjects like cannabis and music!
I occasionally borrow pot from my kids – Keith Richards
Since the beginnings of the jazz era, cannabis and music have been viewed as coevolutionary: both made better by the sum of their whole. Now, scientific research and analysis—such as Fachner’s 2002 report—provide a scientific amplifier for understanding enhanced musical experiences under the influence of cannabis.
Do you often combine cannabis and music? Let us know about your experiences in the comments! As both CBD experts and music-lovers ourselves, we’re happy to hear from you.