Ryan J. McLaughlin, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Integrative Physiology & Neuroscience College of Veterinary Medicine Washington State University, Pullman, WA 

Entrepreneurs on Pot Developed Creative But Impossible Business Ideas

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Benjamin J. Warnick, PhD Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship Carson College of Business Washington State University Vancouver

Dr. Warnick

Benjamin J. Warnick, PhD
Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship
Carson College of Business
Washington State University Vancouver

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Popular culture has perpetuated a notion that cannabis users are more creative. Along these lines, some successful CEOs and entrepreneurs—like Steve Jobs, for example—have claimed that cannabis use has benefitted their creativity at work.

Despite such claims and increased legalization and use of cannabis, the implications of cannabis use for entrepreneurs’ creativity has yet to be rigorously tested. My coauthors and I were very intrigued to dive into the implications of cannabis use for entrepreneurs, whether good or bad. This seemed all the more relevant given the increasing legalization, destigmatization, and use of cannabis. 

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: For an entrepreneurial idea to be creative, it needs to be both original and feasible. We found that frequent cannabis use both helps and hurts entrepreneurs’ creativity—increasing the originality of entrepreneurs new business ideas but decreasing their feasibility compared to entrepreneurs who do not use cannabis. We tested this by having 254 entrepreneurs complete a creativity task where they came up with new business ideas based on virtual reality within three minutes, then chose and elaborated upon the idea they believed was their best.

This increased originality and decreased feasibility of cannabis users’ new business ideas only surfaced to the extent that they were passionate about coming up with new business ideas or had relatively little experience starting new businesses. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

 Response: Cannabis use has pros and cons for entrepreneurs’ creativity—increasing idea originality but decreasing idea feasibility.  Entrepreneurs who use cannabis are especially likely to come up with highly original, but infeasible, ideas if they are very passionate about coming up with new business ideas or have limited experience starting new businesses.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

Response: We compared cannabis-using entrepreneurs with entrepreneurs who do not use cannabis—not whether or not the entrepreneurs were high. Our results held whether or not the cannabis users reported being high on cannabis, but future research could consider running a randomized-controlled experiment comparing the creativity of entrepreneurs who are high when generating ideas compared to those who are sober. Some legal barriers in the U.S. make an experiment like this difficult, at least at the moment.

Our study is the first to examine the implications of any kind of drug use for entrepreneurs. Cannabis use could influence a variety of outcomes for entrepreneurs that we haven’t studied yet, including health and well-being implications, performance on other entrepreneurial tasks, business performance, among many others. There is a lot still to understand about the implications of cannabis use for entrepreneurs and the general population more broadly.

No disclosures


Benjamin J. Warnick, Alexander S. Kier, Emily M. LaFrance, Carrie Cuttler,
Head in the clouds? Cannabis users’ creativity in new venture ideation depends on their entrepreneurial passion and experience,
Journal of Business Venturing, Volume 36, Issue 2,2021, 106088,ISSN 0883-9026,




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Last Updated on February 3, 2021 by Marie Benz MD FAAD