Marijuana and Music: Examining the Relationship

June 03, 2021

Many people know that a good song and marijuana can be a match made in heaven. Learn why that may be, and a brief, yet rich history of music and weed. We also suggest some cannabis strains to try with different music genres to help you find some bliss.

Cannabis and music go together

You may be gearing up to finally go to a live music concert with friends, make music, DJ, or enjoy listening to music while partaking in high-quality cannabis. If so, you probably know that weed and music go very nicely together.

Many songs about weed and their lyrics pay homage to this fruitful relationship. For example, “Soothe me with your caress, sweet marijuana” was sung by Gertrude Michael in 1934. Or “I’m in love with Mary Jane” from Rick James, “I Wanna Get High”, a song by Cypress Hill, and “Smoke Two Joints”, a classic stoner tune by Sublime. There are so many songs inspired by cannabis!

Cannabis and music history

Marijuana and music go way back in U.S. history perhaps starting prominently in the 1920s with the birth of Jazz music in New Orleans. You can say that smoking weed helped the jazz scene flourish, especially in the black community, by giving creativity to music production and performance. Musicians would refer to cannabis in slang terms such as 'grass', or 'reefer' such as in Cab Calloway's famous song "Reefer Man".

Louis Armstrong, a jazz musician known for his gravelly voice and distinct trumpet style also had a slang word for marijuana - 'the gage'. He used marijuana throughout his career and once said, "We always looked at pot as a sort of medicine."

Another movement in which cannabis has been a central part of their philosophy was the Beat Poets in the 1950 and '60s. Weed was definitely central to their written experiences and musical style. The Beatles were also influenced by marijuana in the 1960s. In fact, it's known that Bob Dylan introduced them to smoking cannabis in 1964.

Cannabis was also a cornerstone of the Hip Hop music movement in the 1970s and '80s but not really talked about as frequently in songs until the 1990s. Hip Hop pioneers and moguls Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg released their 1992 album 'The Chronic' as a nod to high-grade cannabis and as a reflection of the plant's popularity in L.A. Other hip-hop artists such as Method Man, Wiz Khalifa, and Kid Cudi are other high-profile proponents of marijuana as reflected in their music and business ventures.

Cannabis and music brain studies

Although many claims are anecdotal, there have been studies that help us understand why weed and music together create feelings of euphoria and connectedness.

Music sounds have been known to activate and enhance our mesolimbic dopamine system, which is the nervous system’s reward pathway where the brain releases dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in feelings of pleasure.

Marijuana activates the mesolimbic dopamine system as well. So it makes sense that the brain is rewarding us when we use weed and listen to music and associates them together over time. This also includes associating people and environments who are present at your weed and music listening experience. It may help explain why you can't stop smiling or the goosebumps on your arms when you light up and hear a beautiful song.

Cannabis also influences our perception of music. One study found that users who smoked cannabis and listened to music activated brain areas associated with increased attention to the sound but with less mental energy. This could result in being more in the present moment with music while high and with a more compressed and vivid memory of the experience.

Cannabis strains to pair with music genres

If you’re wondering whether an indica or sativa dominant cannabis strain is better while listening to music, it depends. Things like the terpenes of the strain, what you are doing, and the type of music matter. So while we know that the experience is personal to each individual, here are five of our favorite in-house strains and different music genres to try together for some good vibes.

1. Tres Kush with Trip-Hop or Lo-Fi

Tres Kush is a result of crossbreeding the heavy-hitting Pure Kush strain with the fragrant hybrid Tres Dawg strain. It touts citrus orange and sweet gassy tastes and smells combined with body relaxing effects but with a clear-headed high. Therefore, this indica dominant hybrid strain may be good to zone out, relax and listen to Trip-Hop or Lo-Fi music. It may help you feel the soothing dreamy sounds, mesmerizing instrumentals, trippy vocals, and heady beats of these genres.

2. Jack Flash with Dub, Reggae or Ska

Jack Flash may be a good sativa dominant strain to enjoy while jamming out to Dub, Reggae, or Ska music for some sunny daytime vibes. Bred originally by Sensi Seeds who have grown Jamaican strains, Jack Flash is a cross between Jack Herer, Super Skunk, and Haze. With mentally invigorating effects and floral and spicy aroma, it may greatly complement the positive energy and skank dancing these genres and artists, like Bob Marley, inspire.

3. Red Headed Stranger with Country or Rock

Red Headed Stranger is a sativa dominant strain named after the 1975 Willie Nelson album. Its effects can be energizing and uplifting and so it may be a good experience to smoke this strain while listening to the imaginative soulful songs of the album. It’s also described as great for socializing or focus, which may help you get into tantalizing guitar hooks and the energizing nature of a rock concert.

4. Mountain Thunder with Jazz or Hip Hop

Mountain Thunder is an earthy sativa dominant strain with terpinolene as a top terpene which can have sedating effects. It’s an uplifting strain but without the racy effects of some sativas so you can fully saturate into dope beats, scratches and follow invigorating raps or soulful lyrics of a Hip Hop song. Or it may help to fully absorb and feel the improvisational flow of piano notes, playful horns or smooth drums of a Jazz song.

5. Afgooey with Ambient or Acoustic Music

Afgooey is a classic indica dominant strain with piney skunky aromas that promote creativity but with calming effects. Myrcene is a top terpene in the strain that can help with muscle relaxation. So it may be good while doing some gentle yin yoga poses or before bed while you zone out to the lush electronic soundscapes or delicate drums of ambient music or soothing acoustic guitars.

We hope this history and knowledge of why weed and music go together and cannabis strains and music pairings help you find lots of happiness!

This content is not intended as medical advice. The information provided is meant to encourage cannabis education, not replace direct patient-healthcare professional relationships. Always consult your primary care physician or other healthcare provider prior to using cannabis products for treatment of a medical condition. Any statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products referenced are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Products are only available where consumption of cannabis is legal.

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