Cannabis And Music: Why Does Music Sound Better With Weed?
Much like peanut butter and jelly or baseball and hotdogs, cannabis and music are a classic combination. Sure, you can easily have one without the other, but when you put them together it’s as if they both realize their true potential, and work together to create a full, well-rounded experience.
When creating or listening to music, weed seemingly unlocks pathways in the brain to open up more room for sonic exploration, experimentation, and a deeper level of listening. Let’s take a look at the connection between cannabis and music.
Why Does Music Sound Better With Weed?
Daniel J. Levitin, professor of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience at McGill University in Montreal, Québec stated in his book ‘The World in Six Songs” that "Music combined with marijuana tends to produce feelings of euphoria and connectedness to the music and the musicians. THC — the active ingredient — is known to stimulate the brain's natural pleasure centers, while also disrupting short-term memory. The disruption of short-term memory thrusts listeners into the moment of the music as it unfolds; unable to explicitly keep in mind what has just been played, or to think ahead to what might be played, people stoned on pot tend to hear music from note to note. Subconsciously all of the usual processes of expectation formation are still occurring, but consciously, the music creates what many people describe as a time-standing-still phenomenon. They live for each note, completely in the moment.”
This essentially comes down to active listening vs. passive listening. We all put music on in the car or in the background just to have something on; this is called passive listening. Passive listening is the act of listening without truly engaging or acknowledging what you are hearing. When you listen actively you’re not only taking in what you are hearing, but rather processing it and analyzing each and every sound in its own space. In essence, cannabis makes you listen more actively and focus on everything happening within a piece of music almost as though you’re dissecting each individual sound and processing it on a more subconscious level.
Studies have proven that THC impacts our auditory and visual processing. Dr. Jörg Fachner stated in an interview with thump.vice.com that “[Marijuana] works like a psycho-acoustic enhancer. That means you are more able to absorb, to focus on something, and to have a bit of a broader spectrum. It doesn't change the music; it doesn't change the ear functioning. Obviously it changes the way we perceive ear space in music. It also changes time perception, and if you listen to music, it is a time process, so if you have a different time perception of course you will listen differently to music.”
If you’ve ever gotten high, put headphones on and played one of your favorite records you will likely understand the almost magical and surreal way that the sounds seem to wrap warmly around your brain, almost as if you can hear things you’ve never before heard regardless of how many times you’ve listened to the record. This is the result of your brain being slowed down just enough to take in more information that you would normally skip over while listening in a more passive state.
Many musicians throughout the years have cited cannabis as being a large source of their creativity. For a long list of musicians that enjoy using cannabis as a creative tool, check out our recent article on 15 Famous Musicians Who Smoke Weed.
Alanis Morissette opened up to High Times Magazine about cannabis and music in 2009 saying, "I've often felt telepathic and receptive to inexplicable messages my whole life. I can stave those off when I'm not high. When I'm high - well, they come in and there's less of a veil, so to speak. So if ever I need some clarity... or a quantum leap in terms of writing something, it's a quick way for me to get to it.”
In an interview on QTV, Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys was asked if cannabis was influential in his own personal writing process, Wilson replied “Very much so, yeah. Marijuana helped me write ‘Pet Sounds.’” Anyone that has ever listened to ‘Pet Sounds’ knows well that it was an experimental time and a departure for The Beach Boys, and to this day it’s regarded as a masterpiece within their very large discography.
Breaking Down Strains
When it comes to cannabis and music there are a plethora of strains to choose from. If you’ve ever walked into a dispensary, you know that the selection can be quite vast and maybe a little bit overwhelming unless you already know exactly what you’re looking for.
In general, cannabis strains can be broken down into three categories. Here is an overview of each to point you in the right direction.
Sativa - The sativa plant is the “go-to” in the world of creativity. While it also works well in treating depression, anxiety, and even chronic aches and pains, the sativa plant has very strong properties to increase creativity and focus. Sativa plants are also known for boosting serotonin levels, which plays a large part in the balancing of learning and mood. Sativa plants are great for use during the day and are generally going to be more uplifting and aid in creativity.
Indica - The indica strain is heavier in its effects. It’s generally recommended for users that have issues with sleeping, muscle pain, nausea, and more extreme anxiety and can be pretty effective in overall deep body relaxation. The indica plant has higher levels of CBD and lower levels of THC on average, which makes it perfect for the more “full body” experience that we all know can lead to couch-lock status. This may not be the most convenient strain if drive and creativity is your end goal.
Hybrid - The world of hybrids can be a pretty broad spectrum. A hybrid is created when breeders select certain sativa and indica strains and then crossbreed them, creating a mixture that can be dominant in either its sativa or indica effects. Popular hybrid strains include AK-47, White Widow, and the very well-known and popular OG Kush.
Where To Begin With Cannabis And Music
If you’re in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, or Las Vegas, you’re in luck because we’ve got a few great suggestions for you!
San Francisco - Cannabis Express
A good place to start with cannabis and music is with Canna Trust Blue Dream. It’s a 60% sativa, 40% indica strain and users have said that it has an uplifting cerebral head high that leaves you completely motivated and focused with waves of creative energy that hit quick and hard.
Los Angeles - Zen Healing West Hollywood
If you’re in Los Angeles, why not try Mendo Breath by Korova? Mixing classic strains Mendo Montage and OGKB, this strain delivers a densely packed punch with a powerful high that is best saved for when you have nothing else planned except a date with your record player.
San Diego - Left Coast Collective West
Juicy Jack combines the tropical flavor of Juicy Fruit with the therapeutic properties of the Jack Herer strain. It’s a hybrid balanced more towards a sativa and its effects lean towards the creative and uplifting buzz that generally comes with a sativa strain.
Las Vegas - Blackjack Collective
Cinex is a crossbreed between Cinderella 99 and Vortex. It has been known to have an earthy flavor with citrus highlights. It provides the user with clear-headed concentration, and also has a stimulating effect, resulting in motivation for tedious tasks and building creative energy.
Artists ranging from Willie Nelson, Rihanna, Santana, and Justin Timberlake have all expressed their love for cannabis over time, and if their music is a reflection of what cannabis and music sound like together, we believe it sounds almost perfect.
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