The relationship between cannabis and creativity is delicate and polarized. While weed can be an incredible tool, inspiring the artist while relaxing the mind into a flow state, it can also backfire. If you over-consume THC or choose the wrong strain to accompany you on your creative voyage, you can quickly find yourself transformed into a stagnant energy orb incapable of creating linear thought, much less conceptualizing art.
While different terpenes and cannabinoid combinations can affect creativity, energy levels, and calm the mind enough to focus, it’s ultimately a matter of personal preference when it comes to choosing a strain that makes you feel creative. Speaking personally, weed has always been a huge part of my creative process — mostly for better, sometimes for worse. I went to Pratt for fine art before finding my path in writing and have used weed extensively to create throughout my adolescence and into adult life. The perfect space to create, for me, is a mixture of feeling uplifted, inspired, and relaxed enough to skirt the anxiety that often accompanies procrastination.
The terpenes that seem to work for me are pinene (focus), limonene (energy), and terpinolene (inspiration), balanced by a lower percentage of myrcene (relaxing) or caryophyllene (anti-anxiety). I also have found that THC percentages below 25 percent tend to help keep my head in the game and my feet on the ground as opposed to super-strong strains that send you into orbit.
So, that’s what works for me. Now let’s see if we can figure out what works for you. Today, we’re ranking the creativity-inducing effects of five incredible strains hot on the market right now. Each of these would be a great place to start if you’re looking to up your game in the studio without accidentally spacing out and ordering a triple pepperoni pizza.
To rate these strains, I went to a beautiful park with lots of happy dogs running around under the Hollywood sign and experienced each of them through this super cool crystal ball pipe from Sackville and Co. It seemed appropriate for this kind of mystical undertaking. Here are the results!
5. Classic Jack by Source Cannabis
Price: $55 for 3.5g
Few strains are more iconic than the uplifting, cerebral Jack Herer. But we rarely see it anymore. This Classic Jack variety by cannabis veterans and one of my favorite indoor brands, Source Cannabis, does the original justice and then some.
Like all Source flower, this weed looks insanely amazing. The nugs are grass green with big orange hairs frosted in trichomes. Smelling the jar, there are notes of bright lemon, deep forest, and pink pepper. It has a sharp, evergreen aroma like pine sap evaporating in the hot summer sun.
I loaded my crystal ball pipe and took a big hit as a dalmatian looked on, confused. I exhaled. There was lemon, pine, fruit that was at once sour and sweet, like sipping some kind of incredible and complex botanical beverage.
I felt inspired to create but also a little dreamy — which I think works for certain art forms better than others. With writing, I often need to be more focused, and sometimes the whimsical element can distract me from completing the creative task at hand. For more open-ended creation, however, I think this would be a perfect choice. That makes this is a great flower for creativity as long as you don’t get too distracted by having fun doing other things, because it’s good for that too.
It’s uplifting and energizing, but also dreamy and zoomy — perfect for visual artists whose work deals in whimsy like painters, sculptors, and illustrators.
4. Durban Poison by Rythm
Price: $55 for 3.5g
In its original form, Durban Poison is one of the only true sativas in existence. Beloved for its creative, energizing effects, today’s Durban Poison from Rythm follows suit with an electrifying strain that energizes the body and invigorates the mind.
Upon the first whiff, I knew this was the kind of weed that wakes your ass up. There’s lemon, spicy, zingy, tangy — you literally feel uplifted just by smelling it. The nugs are bright, dense, and pretty, and, at one point, were probably gorgeous. The mechanical trimming process these corporate brands use tends to destroy the intricacies of bud structures and grinds off many of the trichomes that contain the psychoactive compounds that get you high.
Still, though, it looked bomb.
As I smoked it, the flavor was woodsy and the color dark green came to mind. It had a pine flavor that was more woody than sharp. I exhaled and became immediately electric and sprang into action. It was a manic, prolific kind of creativity where you create a lot and edit it down later.
This is great for writers, thinkers, and people who really have to dive into the depths of their brains to create their art. This flower is deeply cerebral and physically uplifting — much better than coffee for someone keen to get shit done. Promoting laser focus and deep thought, this flower is great for being manically productive in a creative space.
3. Harmony Rose by Emerald Spirit Botanicals
Price: $65 for 7g
Harmony Rose by the fifth-generation family farm Emerald Spirit Botanicals is soul medicine that raises your vibration, making it perfect for elevating your artistic practice. While that might sound a little woo-woo to the average reader, I’m fucking serious. This shit is high-frequency earth magic and I will die on this hill.
Loose and fragrant, this is the kind of weed that makes you realize cannabis is a psychoactive flower. Harmony Rose is the antithesis to the small, rock-shaped nugs with astronomical THC percentages that are grown in a warehouse and make you feel like a zombie. This flower is free-flowing, low dose, and high in all the other chemical compounds that make you feel happy, healed, and good.
Just a quick educational side note: THC percentage refers to the percentage of the mass of the nug that is made up of the chemical THC. Meaning, when you have a flower that’s something astronomical like 35 percent, so much of the physical mass of that plant is being taken up by one chemical. All the other compounds that make you feel good are going way down to make room for the juiced-up THC. You lose the other colors in the rainbow of cannabinoids naturally present in the plant and narrow the scope of its healing powers dramatically. While a newbie might think they’re getting more bang for their buck, consumers of extremely high THC flower often experience anxiety, paranoia, and even freakouts.
All of that said, Harmony Rose comes in at just 8.7 percent THC and 9.5 percent CBD. This is a 1:1 flower whose nugs are natural-looking and not dense. They’re purple, green, and orange. They look like what the cannabis plant produced prior to all this human intervention looked like. The smell is like delicate rose tea — beautiful and strong — without being overwhelming. Truly exquisite and difficult to define.
I packed a bowl and took a hit. The flavor is exactly like the smell: Sweet, musky, floral, delicious. Harmony Rose is all about the subtle art of elevation. Immediately, you feel better, brighter, and lifted.
The only way I can truly describe the high is that your vibe just gets way, way higher. The ideas flowed and I wasn’t judging myself or being critical. I was creating freely. This medicine brings you to a healing place where you’re eager to create, without fear or judgment.
Plus, you’re guaranteed not to freak out. So if you’re freakout-prone, this one’s for you.
2. Blood Orange by Aster Farms
Price: $30 for 3.5g
Blood Orange by the sun-grown, sustainable brand Aster Farms is one of my favorite strains of now. Not only is it incredible for reaching the creative flow state, but it also makes every day come alive with fun.
This flower smells and tastes like blood oranges. They’re luscious, fragrant orange blossoms with a sour and savory tinge. The terpene profile on this strain is out of control. The smell, the taste, it’s overwhelmingly decadent. A complex and robust terpene profile is the most important thing when it comes to choosing your flower. The more terps, the more healing and nuanced the high. While some flower may look insane on the outside, it’s what you can’t see that really counts in my opinion. These nugs are dense, green, orange, fuzzy, earthy, and real.
Another way to determine great weed is if the smell of the terpene profile continues into the flavor of the weed as you smoke it and exhale. This, my friends, was a flavor explosion. It was as if my mouth was coated in an expensive blood-orange liqueur. It tasted natural and gorgeous, like the essence of fruit and sunshine.
“Orange orchards in the springtime,” “farmers market on a Sunday,” and “fancy steak dinner” were all scribbled in my notes.
The high is focused, clear, and left me ready to take on the world with a playful bent. Blood Orange contains high levels of the terpene terpinolene, which is known as the creativity terpene. It’s cerebral and exciting, perfect for writing and coming up with ideas. Dreamy, calming, and inspiring.
This is a fantastic daytime flower that — aside from the official creativity test — I’ve been smoking at all times for the past couple of weeks.
1. Candy Cane by Moon Made Farms
Price: $100 for 14g
Candy Cane by the sun-grown Emerald Triangle brand Moon Made Farms blew my mind. It has become a life-changing flower for me in a lot of ways. Healing, inspiring, thoughtful, and deep, it allows you to transcend the physical realm and exist only in the ethereal space between body and mind where creativity occurs.
This flower checks every box for me in the sensory department. The nugs are chunky, sparkly, crunchy, and perfect. Not too dense, they break apart easily into cascading tones of violet, deep purple, and orange with a hundred shades of green. It’s piney, woody, and peppery. Just smelling this flower helps relieve the anxiety that constantly plagues my body and mind.
The smell is perfectly aligned with flavor in this variety with a deep, woody flavor that melts anxiety on the exhale. There is an immediate head change. Your eyes get heavier but your mind comes alive.
I found this flower to be inspiring in a totally different way than I’m used to. Usually, I go for an intense sativa, but this is definitely something more languid. The body high is so relieving and euphoric. It’s almost like you don’t have a body at all and can completely focus your energy on what your mind is creating.
Finally freed from the bindings of the physical realm, you are free to explore your mind and see what materializes from its depths. That makes this the perfect cannabis, in general, but also for creativity!
It’s nurtured by the sun! And the rain! And soil that is alive! Every psychoactive compound has been filled out to perfection. Your mind will be excited and your body relaxed. Seriously, try it for yourself and go make something wonderful.