Usually when we talk about cannabis it is done for legal issues to legalization and regulation, leaving aside the cultural history that is repeatedly intertwined with the evolutionary history of man and society.

It is widely used as well as for the production of everyday objects such as cordage useful for navigation, sheets and pillowcases in hospitals; also as an inspiration or a means to reach the maximum expression of creativity in the form of art.

Index of sections

  • But how does cannabis affect human creativity?
  • Examples of the use of hemp in art.
  • Cannabis, Music, Culture.

As already mentioned, among the characteristics of cannabis there is also that of stimulating the creative side, in fact there is a correlation between hemp and the history of art. With hemp it would be possible to obtain hemp oil paints and fabric canvases on which to paint. The Plan, therefore, is not just a reference for the artistic dimension, but a means through which to go in search of artistic inspiration.

But how does cannabis affect human creativity?

In the past, the likes of Salvador Dali, Shakespeare, jazz musician Louis Armstrong, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan were said to be inspired by cannabis. Today, following the advance of the green wave of legalization, many others have sprung up, mostly singers, who support our lovely plant. According to these artists, therefore, weed plays the role of stimulant for the artistic process. But to find out how cannabis can affect an individual's creative process we need to understand what actually happens to the brain at what time we took certain amounts. Neurons, located inside the brain, allow information to be processed, transmit / receive messages by translating them into electrical stimuli that go from one neuron to another. When a signal is received, the neuron enters a state of excitation. The exchange of these stimuli occurs for every single movement or action that our body carries out, including heartbeats and involuntary breathing, up to the projection of images of the retina and the sounds encoded by hearing.

Cannabis contains cannabinoids (read here) active ingredients that are molecularly similar to some produced by our body, that is, endocannabinoids. When these are released from our brain, the neurons become temporarily inactive, the mechanism serves to prevent continuous reactions and allow the brain to function regularly. Cannabinoids and in particular THC, due to its affinity with the radical anandamide responsible for the degradation of cells, has the ability to inhibit this block in some areas of the brain. By removing the refractory period of the neurons, they become more active and bring the imagination and perception towards a state of amplification. This means that once a process of reasoning or thinking takes place, it will tend to become very profound and important.

Cannabinoids (read here), like all drugs, affect the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, bringing a sense of euphoria, relaxation, release from pain, general mood improvement unless you are in a strong state of paranoia. In short, the stimuli provided to all these components are on the whole favorable to the development of a creative thought worthy of the best artists. Recall that despite everything, until a few decades ago, marijuana smokers were considered lazy and shy away from fatigue, when in reality, taking cannabis would allow them to overcome the limits of creativity.

Examples of the use of hemp in art.

In some archaeological excavations carried out in Central Asia, ancient forms of representation of cannabis have emerged through rock paintings dated to the year 3000 BC. But in a cave located in Japan, representations of cannabis leaves were found on a wall, characterized by the 7 typical tips of the leaf. This ancient painting dates back to 5,000 BC. and thus can win the title of the oldest illustration of a cannabis leaf. Despite the traces in prehistoric times, there is no need to go too far.

In the first half of the 16th century the doctor and free thinker François Rabelais in his hermetic novels, hidden under the veil of satire, sang the praises of Indian hemp and its effects in the West, concealing it under the name of Pantagruélio. The combination of hemp and literature has always been very close and lasting. It must be specified that in the 19th century the use of cannabinoids was considered normal especially among the intellectuals and artists of the time, no one had ever considered it as a scandalous or amoral thing, on the contrary, its use was quite widespread. . For example, William Shakespeare, will still remain a great genius, although it is not to be doubted that to stimulate his own creative ability, as claimed by Dr. Frances Thackeray (head of the paleontology department of the Transvaal museum in Pretoria) and Professor Nick van der Merwe, the artistic production of the famous English playwright was, at least in part, to be linked to the practice of cannabis consumption. The supporting evidence of these hypotheses are: the sonnet number 76, in which Shakespeare speaks of it as the "Invention of a known herb" and the traces of hemp found in his pipe in his last known residence.

Even in France throughout the 19th century there was a constant use of cannabis which profoundly influenced the spiritual-romantic atmosphere. It, together with the use of other psychoactive substances, stimulated individual and artistic creativity and quickly spread among all the most sensitive personalities to geniuses of the time. In 1844 in Paris Théophile Gautier together with the painters Fernand Boissard and F.B. de Boisdenier, founded the exclusive literary club of the Hashishins. Within this circle, the actors of the French intellectual and artistic environment, largely made up of Freemasons, celebrated a variety of ritual conferences where hashish was consumed both for recreational purposes and with the specific intent of stimulating the faculties beyond the usual. artistic and imaginative, in search of new forms of aesthetic expression. The individual and group experiences of the Hashishins involved, among others, Victor Hugo, Eugéne Delacroix and the young Charles Baudelaire.

The latter comes into contact with cannabis indirectly, following the invasion of Egypt by Napoleon. It seems that this military maneuver may be one of the ways by which cannabis was introduced in part of Europe. The artist, despite the habit of consuming psychotropic substances, has always expressed contradictory positions towards hemp resin (read here). In his many writings: "On wine and hashish", "Poem of hashish" and "Artificial Paradises", Baudelaire always lashes out against the abuse of substances which according to the author:

"They are neither good nor bad if consumed in reasonable quantities"

but it cannot exempt itself from differentiating the use based on the social background of the consumer. According to Baudelaire, culture is essential for a man, since without it he would risk being overwhelmed by the effects of wine or hashish, while on the contrary, a person capable of exercising self-esteem can only benefit from it. For Baudelaire it is right to forbid the use of hemp resin to the people, because, being able to amplify the moods and consciences it could produce destabilizing effects for the social system, but on the other hand he believes that hemp, assumed by artists and people with a certain cultural level, it can also produce positive effects, that is, it can amplify their sensitivity, favoring the artistic experience. Also on the way of use (read here) Baudelaire discusses the various potentials of the substance:

"While assimilated in the form of a decoction with the addition of butter and opium, it creates surprising effects in minimal quantities, if mixed with tobacco the phenomena described occur to a very modest extent, and so to speak, in a lazy form"

In classical Italian history there have been many artists who have used hemp for the creation of extraordinary masterpieces. Among the various Masters, we have the geniuses of the Renaissance, Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti, who did not use hemp only for the realization of the colors, but also of the canvases on which to paint. Furthermore, the word Canvas, used to designate any type of pictorial canvas, originates from the Latin term “cannapaceus” which literally means “made of hemp”. In Dutch painting we find one of the greatest painters of the nineteenth century, Vincent Van Gogh, whose self-portrait was made on a canvas; In Spain we have the sculptor and lithographer, the absolute protagonist of the nineteenth-century tradition and contemporary Spanish art, Pablo Picasso. The recurring use of the material by the artists testifies to the excellent quality of the fiber and thanks to the resistance of its derivatives, it finds numerous uses with the ultimate aim of keeping the work in excellent condition over the years. In fact, other materials may not be suitable for professional work, because they do not prove very resistant over time. From the industrial hemp plant (read here) it is possible to obtain a very resistant (read here) and versatile fiber that also gives shine and is not damaged in any way by the color.

In Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel hemp materials were used, starting with the realization of the colors that were based on hemp oil, all without the knowledge of the Pope who had commissioned the work. This would explain the extraordinary hold of the work over the centuries, and moreover, Michelangelo was known for the codes through which he used to send encrypted messages. With the realization of this work, he would have wanted to launch at least two subliminal messages: the first, regarding the cryptic relationship with the Catholic Church, the second, on the potential of hemp, a material chosen without the knowledge of the client. Finally, the artist Lidia Scalzo, painter and ceramist, is known for the original combination of resins, often symbiotically combined with other materials. She too experimented with hemp on the occasion of May 9, world day of the Million Marijuana March network, through a significant fresco on the wall made of hemp and lime bricks. The painting symbolizes all women. A stylized woman appears in all her sinuous femininity. She is seated on the planet represented by the Circle with a blue outline at the bottom right, inside which a green spiral emerges, a symbol of the Synergistic Gardens.

Cannabis, Music, Culture.

The artistic inspiration does not stop there, since 1969, after the Woodstock experience, the use of hemp spread throughout the Western world and the union between weed and rock music became indissoluble from that moment. Tracks by timeless artists were created and performed under the influence of hashish and weed and only later the violent entry into the art world by cocaine and even worse than heroin, created the conditions for self-destruction, as happened for Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin and numerous others. There is no American group or band, especially on the west cost side, that hasn't composed a song about cannabis and its beneficial effects. At the Woodstock festival, which was attended by about half a million people, the general consumption of weed produced no accidents or casualties.

The influence of cannabis can only have marked what is the famous Reggae, a musical genre that finds its culmination of the relationship with cannabis in the figure of Bob Marley, was perhaps the greatest spokesperson for Rastafarian claims and the magical properties of ganja. Reggae music and cannabis have an intrinsic relationship, it is born from hemp, lives with hemp, sings hemp and invites its consumption, as a bearer of altruistic, peaceful and supportive feelings.

Another genre that is influenced by cannabis is undoubtedly Jazz. In the early 1900s in Louisiana in New Orleans, in the circles frequented by black people, who in those years invented that musical genre we call jazz, smoking hemp was normal, absolutely accepted. Smoking cannabis favored creativity in favor of quality music and also the removal from the pains of miserable daily life, from hunger, from the problems of racial segregation and from all the torments of a painful and difficult life.
Louis Armstrong was a great admirer of cannabis because, according to the artist, it was useful in bringing out the positive aspects of a person. Furthermore, Dizzy Gillespie, musician and composer, stated that:

"Jazz musicians, old and young, almost everyone I knew smoked weed, but I wish I didn't call it drug abuse."

And finally, as already covered extensively in our article (read here), cannabis has also landed among the stars of the big screen, also to stimulate the creativity of the art of cinema. There are numerous actors who have sided in favor of cannabis, just as many are the production of films, programs, documentaries and TV series that see it as the protagonist with stories inspired by the world of cannabis. Even in non-material form, cannabis goes with everything. It is a sort of elixir, capable of opening up a third dimension of one's personality, the important thing is to know it, build a culture, learn how to manage it without falling into the abyss to which a life without rules can lead independent of the substance consumed. As demonstrated by the past of our art history and beyond, cannabis can be the panacea for all ills. And don't forget that smoking cannabis can be experienced as socializing and sharing or as a source to meditate on yourself and on important decisions to face. Do not believe the bigots who point to it as a drug of passage or as an addiction similar to all the others, even if not all of us are artists, we all deserve to live this life with an extra pinch of color, perhaps green.

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