There’s no doubt about it, cannabis and music go together like peanut butter and jelly. While not all stoners share the same taste in music, it’s pretty rare to meet a cannabis lover who doesn’t prefer their joint with a side of tunes.
Since the early days of jazz, musicians used cannabis as a source for enhanced creativity and inspiration. From Miley Cyrus, to Willie Nelson, to Louis Armstrong, artists of all genres and time periods, as well as fans, have publicly shared their love for the herb and its effects on music.
But Really, why Does Music Sound so Damn Good When We’re High?
There’s currently little research on this topic as cannabis remains illegal on a federal level, but many doctors and researchers have come up with their own thoughts to explain the phenomenon.
While cannabis doesn’t physically change the way your ears listen or the way the music plays; it does change the way in which you perceive it. Cannabinoids like THC and CBD interact with the brain’s response to stimuli and speed up our internal clocks, making everything in the real world seem to pass by—slowly. A study of 44 individuals showed that participants who were high overestimated time by as much as 25%, meaning that waiting ten minutes for our food to arrive at our table really does life like a lifetime when you’re stoned.
But What Does all This Have to do With Music?
In terms of production, professor of music, Jorg Fachner, explained to Leafly, that after using cannabis, “Your timing units, the time frames that you are overseeing, seem to be enlarged,” he adds. “So those who are improvising seem to have a bit more time to foresee the melodic developments in improvisation and to fine grain the rhythmic patterns.“
This is beneficial for musicians attempting to mentally squeeze notes into a number of musical bars.
In terms of listening pleasure, there are a different theories as to why cannabis makes music sound so great. Weed is known to improve attention and focus, making listeners more able to absorb the sounds they’re hearing. That explains why Jimi’s guitar solo might melt particularly hard into your brain after packing a bowl.
Further, research shows that cannabinoids also promote the re-growth of neurons, essentially heightening your appreciation for sensory experiences, like music. Not to mention, cannabis puts users in a very relaxed state, making music naturally more enjoyable.
Jess G., a media studies and production student, frequently uses cannabis to amplify her passion for music production. She finds that smoking allows her to hear things in her music she otherwise wouldn’t.
“Listening to music under the influence of weed allows you to hear things with a different perspective. For me personally, it makes me more in tune with things that I might have not been paying attention to while sober, especially subtle little details,” she tells the Emerald. “It also makes it easier for me to differentiate the different instruments and textures, and hear each one more intensely.”
While we can’t quite put our finger on the exact science behind cannabis and music, we do know that sativa strains are particularly pleasant while listening to, or making music. So, what are you waiting for? Go grab a joint and your headphones, and get to listening!