Article by Angela Stelmakowich, Growth Op
It’s a mix of good and bad when it comes to how weed might help entrepreneurs come up with creative and feasible business ideas, although seasoned business players with less “out-there” thoughts seem to experience fewer ups and downs.
Appearing in the Journal of Business Venturing, new research out of Washington State University (WSU) suggests that weed use “may have some benefits in the early brainstorming stages of the venture ideation process,” but it remains key to ground creativity in reality to successfully launch a new company.
Researchers considered feedback from 254 entrepreneurs who “completed a new venture ideation task, generating as many ideas for a new business as possible based on virtual reality technology,” according to a WSU article. Each entrepreneur chose his or her best idea and its originality and feasibility were rated by a panel of experts.
Although ideas — not individuals — were the focus of the current study, research published in 2017 tested whether users’ personalities or cannabis itself positively affected creativity. Relative to non-users, researchers found that while sober cannabis consumers “appear to demonstrate enhanced creativity, these effects are an artifact of their heightened levels of openness to experience.”
And a review back in 2011 suggested that using weed “produces psychotomimetic symptoms, which, in turn, might lead to connecting seemingly unrelated concepts, an aspect of divergent thinking considered primary to creative thinking.” By breaking free from ordinary thinking and associations, weed users upped the likelihood of generating novel ideas or associations.
In the latest study, however, cannabis-using entrepreneurs — defined as those who reported consuming marijuana an average of almost 20 times in the past month — came up with some incredibly creative business ideas compared to non-users, the WSU reports. This included a weightless, gravity-free virtual reality workout.
In general, though, the fly in the ointment for cannabis-using movers and shakers appeared to be making the leap from creativity to feasibility.
“Originality and feasibility are both crucial in entrepreneurship — one without the other limits potential value creation,” explains Benjamin Warnick, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor at WSU.
Warnick further notes the cognitive effects of chronic cannabis use have been shown to last for as long as a month, including increased impulsivity and free-thinking tendencies.
Of course, not all cannabis users were the same when it comes to ideas that actual translate into successful business launches. The divide between creativity and feasibility compared to non-users “only surfaced for entrepreneurs who reported relatively strong passion for exploring new business ideas,” the WSU reports. “The effect was absent for cannabis-using entrepreneurs with experience founding more than one business,” it points out.