Music and Cannabis

Cannabis and music go together. Many famous musicians have been well-known for their love for the plant: Bob Dylan, Wiz Khalifa, The Grateful Dead, Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, Bob Marley, and the list goes on. Cannabis and music have a “joint” relationship. Music provides a fuller social setting for smoking with others and a better solitary experience when smoking alone. Most cannabis consumers love music and vice versa. That’s a fact in my book. From the lyrics to the beat, there’s just something about music that draws you in. I might be biased because I am what you call a “music enthusiast,” but honestly, how can you be unphased when listening to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton. At every festival or concert, I have always seen or smelled an overwhelming aroma of cannabis in the air. 

Let’s talk about the overall process of what happens to your brain when you are indulging in cannabis. 

Cannabis increases activity in the brain’s striatum, which is responsible for things like motivation, decision-making, and reward processing. It increases your desire to listen to music as well as intensifies the whole experience. The plant also tends to blur the lines between senses, meaning sometimes people say that they can “ see the vibrations of music in the air.” It sounds crazy, but cannabis heightens your senses to the point that they’re difficult to separate. What happens is that the THC is interacting with various sensory regions in your brain: the occipital cortex (where vision is processed), the somatosensory system (which processes touch), and the gustatory perception (where we process taste). All of your senses are elevated and amped up. 

Now, the only part not affected is the auditory system. There was a study done in 1976 about the correlation between cannabis consumption and auditory processing. The study found that cannabis doesn’t improve or affect a person’s ability to process auditory stimuli. While the plant may not make you hear better, it does improve the cognition required to process it, stating “All of these effects were perceived as emotionally pleasant or cognitively interesting, leading to greatly enhanced enjoyment of sound and music.” In other words, you appreciate the music more for its complexity. 

Similarity Effects of Music and Cannabis

Both music and cannabis possess therapeutic qualities such as pain relief and reducing anxiety. Marijuana is already a well-known remedy for pain relief, especially for cancer patients, and is utilized for a variety of mental health issues. Music with a positive message can help improve one’s mood, whether they are sad, angry, or hurt emotionally. Music as a pain reliever is a very interesting medical method, but it’s a thing! A 2011 study showcased the use of music as an adjuvant to control pain, especially in medical procedures. It states:

“Surgery causes stress and anxiety that exacerbates the experience of pain. Self-report and physiological measures on post-surgical patients indicate that music therapy or music stimulation reduces the perception of pain, both alone and when part of a multimodal pain management program, and can reduce the need for pharmaceutical interventions.”

Listening to music acts as a distraction, which you can say is similar to what cannabis does. It’s hard to focus on pain and problems when the music (or cannabis) is too awesome. Music and marijuana are both just short term ways of getting away for people, whether they want to relax or get something off their minds for a little. Hey, when Bob Marley said, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain,” he wasn’t lying.

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