We’re all familiar with the “lazy stoner” stereotype: people who spend all their free time smoking weed, eating junk food, and watching TV. Don’t get me wrong – from time to time, a lazy day like that can be a lot of fun, and sometimes it’s a good way to recharge. But while cannabis makes a lot of activities more enjoyable, it also encourages users to lower their standards.
Shows that we might usually watch one or two episodes of, we binge for hours. We keep playing video games that we’re already sick of, but when we’re high they’re just interesting enough to keep our attention. In short, cannabis can stop us from being bored when we’re supposed to be bored. When this sort of evening becomes a routine, it turns into an unfulfilling lifestyle.
However, that’s not to say everyone who enjoys cannabis should quit. Cannabis can boost divergent thinking, alter senses and perceptions, heighten imagination, and (for some users more than others) increase creativity. These effects make sitting around and watching cartoons more interesting, but they’re going to waste if that’s all you do. So, how do you make the most out of a high?
Most people aren’t great at entertaining themselves, but it’s a skill that can be developed. Many users become more imaginative while using cannabis, but this effect is often masked by other distractions, such as the TV. Partially because cannabis reduces short-term memory, it’s very difficult to hold onto many thoughts while trying to absorb media.
For a change of pace, get away from media and see what you come up with on your own. Lay down somewhere comfortable like a bed or a warm bath, put on some atmospheric, unobtrusive music if you want, and close your eyes. Don’t try to think of anything specific. Instead, just let your mind wander, and follow it along on the journey. Your experience will be different from other people’s, and it will probably vary significantly between sessions – you might experience closed-eye visuals, abstract trains of thought, vividly-imagined other worlds, or any number of other unique experiences. In any case, it should be interesting.
Bonus: Cannabis can also enhance episodic memory. Many users report that during highs, long-forgotten memories have resurfaced for the first time in many years.
Cannabis has been shown to have a more significant positive effect on creativity in users who typically aren’t very creative, but it can give everyone at least a little boost. Even if it doesn’t do much for creativity itself in some people, it can lower inhibitions and help silence your “inner editor,” allowing you to do more work and worry less about the result.
Carl Sagan is an excellent example of someone who knew how to use cannabis to jumpstart creativity and actually get work done. In one fantastic essay he wrote advocating for cannabis, he writes that after one smoke session, “one idea led to another, and at the end of about an hour of extremely hard work I found I had written eleven short essays on a wide range of social, political, philosophical, and human biological topics,” which he later used in public lectures, speeches, and books. Interestingly, all these essays were outside Sagan’s primary fields of work, astronomy and cosmology, though later in the essay he also states that he was able to make use of cannabis when thinking about problems in those fields as well.
To make the most of the cannabis creativity boost, try something new as well as something familiar. If you’re not usually creative, and don’t have a stockpile of art supplies and instruments, try drawing or writing – things that probably don’t require any equipment that you don’t already have. If you are creative, try something new, or do something that you’re already familiar with while your perceptions are altered. It could give you a new perspective. Most importantly, though, enjoy the process and the act of creation, and don’t get involved in making value judgements or criticizing your work.
Bonus: The synesthesia that cannabis sometimes causes can be an asset during some artistic endeavors. You might be able to compose a song based on the colors of notes and textures of timbres, for example, or go the other direction by painting what you visualize when you hear a particular song.
It has been said that alcohol can easily make strangers into friends. That’s not exactly the case with cannabis, but our favorite herb can make good friends into better ones, with the right setting and the right people. The renowned French poet Charles Baudelaire once wrote that “It sometimes happens that people completely unsuited for wordplay will improvise an endless string of puns and wholly improbable idea relationships fit to outdo the ablest masters of this preposterous craft. But after a few minutes, the relation between ideas becomes so vague, and the thread of your thoughts grows so tenuous, that only your cohorts… can understand you.”
In some cases, this is true word-for-word, but not all high thoughts are devoid of meaning or insight, as they are sometimes portrayed to be. Cannabis lowers inhibitions, much like alcohol, but you’re more likely to remember what you talked about the next day. It can heighten empathy, which means it could be a useful tool if you need to talk through an issue with a friend or a partner… but failing that, if you gather some close friends and smoke, you’ll frequently have very interesting, enjoyable conversations of the sort that Baudelaire describes. Just make sure you’re with people you trust in a familiar place.
I’d recommend a sativa-heavy strain for a social evening like this. Otherwise, your night might devolve into an unplanned group nap.
Finally, remember to be sober sometimes. Even cannabis, something that makes just about everything better, will get old after a while. If you’re constantly living in that hazy glow, though, you might not realize that you’ve started to get bored. Take a break every now and then so that you can remember to appreciate cannabis for what it is: a supplement to the things that make you happy, not a cure for dissatisfaction. It can’t manufacture contentment. You have to do that yourself.