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Why Do Music & Cannabis Go So Well Together?

Long before Snoop Dogg, long before even Willie Nelson, cannabis has been inexorably linked to music. One of the most famous and most influential artists of the twentieth century, the great Louis Armstrong, the undisputed father of modern jazz, was a notable and lifetime proponent of smoking cannabis. 

Armstrong famously turned away from alcohol and turned to cannabis to help him deal with life on the road and endless performances either onstage on in studio. To Armstrong and others, the “gage” helped them feel the music and play the “parts in between the notes” which lead directly to the improvisational nature of jazz. Not so surprisingly science supports that theory.

louis armstrong cannabis

So what does this mean for us as listeners?

Cannabis affects the brain in such a way that we perceive time to be moving slower than it actually is. This gives us what feels like more time to listen to a given sequence of music and process it, hearing "the space between the notes".

“The brain is really on fire when it listens to music, just from a physiological point of view,” explains Michael Thaut, a professor of music and neurology at the U of Toronto. “That’s really important because there’s pitch, there’s rhythm, there’s harmony, there’s timbre. That’s an enormous amount of work the brain does when it listens to music.” [1]    

why do music and cannabis go so well together

So while music is asking our brains for a lot of reaction, cannabis is helping focus the brain activity on the music itself, enhancing the experience while both the music and the cannabis are activating our pleasure and reward systems in our brains.

Simultaneously, cannabis inhibits short term memory, explains Zachary Walsh, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia, and in doing so it enhances present focus. “It inhibits searching through your memory, and allows the listener to focus on the present moment,” Walsh explains. “Thrusting the listener into the moment the music unfolds….. people tend to hear the music from note to note.”[2]

cannabis & music

The most immediate noticeable impact of this is that people tend to listen to more complex recordings with their cannabis and get a more thorough understanding of the music when under the influence. Therefore the connection of cannabis and the wildly chaotic and improvisational sounds of the early jazz masters, like Armstrong, or the bebop sounds of Miles Davis or Dizzy Gillespie or Pink Floyd, makes perfect sense.

Today with the legalization of cannabis and its expansion to many more consumers and demographics it was a natural to connect the cannabis retail experience to music, a partnership that is both emotionally satisfying and grounded in science. Hence the Prairie Records retail concept. An experience that acknowledges that consuming cannabis and music are intimately linked from the earliest days of popular music.

[1] https://www.cbcmusic.ca/posts/20516/music-science-cannabis-high-legalization

[2] https://www.cbcmusic.ca/posts/20516/music-science-cannabis-high-legalization


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