Cannabis in Literature – Weed’s Role in the Pursuit of Creative Writing

Cannabis and Literature

Cannabis and literature have a long and celebrated history. There are a good number of poets and authors who have used cannabis in their creative writing. Many have found great commercial success and some even attributed part of their creative process to cannabis.

There’s nothing quite like smoking a joint and reading an amazing novel. Even if you do have to re-read the same page 3 times because you can’t remember if you already did. We wanted to take a brief look at cannabis’s relationship with literature. 

Famous Poems and Books on Cannabis

Cannabis has been a part of various societies forever. Therefore it is no surprise that it is mentioned in over five thousand books. Most are botanical and horticulture books, while some are cover the plant’s political history. There are also countless recipes that include cannabis. We can expect more of a presence of cannabis in cuisine as we find more ways to include the herb in our dishes. However, among these many literary mentions, only a few have become popular.

John Taylor

The Praise of Hemp Seed is a poem by John Taylor, an English poet, published in the early 1620s. The poem talks about the many uses of hemp. It also mentions that many writers have used hemp paper to write their plays and poems on. However, one interesting part of the poem was how it regarded hemp is more than just a paper. According to the poet, it is also used as a “muse” that helps writers create their masterpieces. It even hinted that William Shakespeare used hemp when he’s writing his poems. Future discoveries in his home would only give weight to this theory. One line from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 76 – “Invention in a noted weed” – may very well be about cannabis.


Homie smoked tons of weed.


Jack Herer

One of the most influential books on cannabis is Jack Herer’s The Emperor Wears No Clothes. Written in 1985, this book still serves as a sort of bible in the cannabis world. The book tells the story of cannabis, from its ancient history to the tragic war and ultimate prohibition of cannabis. His book helped push forward the cannabis and hemp legalization movement during Reagan’s tumultuous war on drugs.


Don’t act like you haven’t gotten super high and cuddled with your weed before.


Mel Frank

Mel Frank’s The Marijuana Growers Guide is often attributed with teaching America how to grown cannabis. Both a master of indoor and outdoor growing, Frank took both a scientific and layman approach to make cannabis growing as accessible as possible to all who read it.


I’d watch this sequel to Signs.


Famous Poets and Authors Who Used Cannabis

Stephen King

Many great books have been, and still are, being written by prolific poets and authors while under the influence of cannabis. One good example is Stephen King, the author of famous horror novels like It, The Stand, Misery, Cujo, Carrie, Salem’s Lot, Christine, and the eight-book series, The Dark Tower.  King was writing books after books during the 1980s while under the influence of both cannabis and alcohol. Although he’s no longer smoking cannabis, King remains a steadfast supporter of cannabis legalization.


Getting high and reading Stephen King goes together like reading Stephen King and wondering if he’s in a fact a serial killer himself.


Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan is another popular author known for his pot use while writing. One of his famous literary works is Contact, which was written in 1985 and adapted for film in 1997. Sagan also co-wrote “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.” The 13-part series talked about a wide range of topics – from anthropological to even biological and astronomical matters. An award-winning series, it has also been turned into a television series. On his cannabis use, Sagan stated that weed helped boost his creativity. It also helped enhanced his scientific insights when creating his masterpieces.


Does he look high?


William Shakespeare

As mentioned earlier, there is some speculation that the world’s best-known poet, William Shakespeare, was a user of the devil’s lettuce. According to one study, eight of the 24 400-year-old pipe fragments found in his home had traces of weed. While it’s inconclusive that the pipes belonged to Shakespeare, the fact that they were found in his home increased the possibility that they were his. Some experts also believe that some lines in his Sonnet 76 speak of using cannabis for creative writing. Shakespeare’s play entitled A Country Controversy also referenced cannabis as the herb that slows downtime.

Billy Shakespeare wrote beautiful sonnets and smoked fat doinks.

Alan Ginsberg

Another more contemporary poet with an affinity for cannabis, and one of my favourite humans, in general, is Alan Ginsberg. The late poet is credited with coining the now-infamous yet simple quote “pot is fun”.  The founder of the New York chapter of LeMar (Legalize Marijuana) Ginsberg was instrumental in organizing demonstrations in protest of unjust cannabis laws. Ginsberg often discussed cannabis in his work, one time explaining “The actual experience of the smoked herb has been clouded by a fog of dirty language, perpetrated by a crowd of fakers who have not had the experience, and yet, insist on downgrading it.” Ginsberg’s impact on the way society viewed cannabis is undeniable and nobody had quite as much fun sticking their middle finger up to the man while smoking a doobie as him.


Alan Ginsberg perfectly embodied the ‘beat’ movement.


My national resources consist of two joints of marijuana millions of genitals an unpublishable private literature that jetplanes 1400 miles an hour and twentyfive-thousand mental institutions.” – Allan Ginsberg, America (I didn’t feel right correcting his lack of punctuation.)

Top Strains That Boost Creativity

Cannabis has the ability to affect our creativity, focus, and productivity. However, how it affects the individual’s creative drive will also depend on multiple factors, the biggest being the state of mind. Let’s say you feel motivated and geared up to finish your writing, then cannabis will enhance these “feelings” for you. If you’re feeling lazy or unmotivated, then don’t expect any help from cannabis.

If you want cannabis to boost your creativity and productivity, then you should choose strains with high pinene levels. This terpene enhances focus, creativity, and mood.


Blue Mountain Durban
This Sativa has all the best qualities of its landrace parent, Durban Poison, but is also refined with some Indica qualities to keep you relaxed throughout the trip. Perfect for getting work done!

Blue Dream
A balanced favourite for many smokers. Blue Dream is great for getting your creative juices flowing without getting you too stoned to be productive.

One of the most fragrant and delicious strains out there. An ideal Indica that lifts your spirits and keeps you going while keeping you calm and chilled out.


Final Thoughts

The cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis interact with the brain’s regions responsible for mood and creative thought processes, both divergent and convergent thinking. By activating these systems, it can help you look at your work in many creative angles and, at the same time, improve focus and attention to detail.

However, even if you’re using the right strain, it can also have an opposite effect especially if laziness and lack of motivation dominate your mood. 

Some of the most prolific names in literature have used cannabis. This article only scratches the surface. This goes to prove that using cannabis does not make you lazy or unintelligent. It shows that its all a matter of what you do with it.


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