- One must be a fox in order to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves. Machiavelli Niccolo
Cannabis use can increase focus and concentration, making a person's moods, sensations, and experience seem more intense. Your heart may feel like it's pounding, the music is fantastic, this is the best dessert you've ever eaten and, wow, get a load of how beautiful nature is. The problem is that if you're concentrating on something that's negative, you can intensify that feeling, as well. Fortunately, something else will come along and distract you with another thought to pursue, if you so choose. And if your fleeting idea feels like the answer to the world's problems, please write it down. It's profundity might escape you later, but it will feel good if it turns out you're right.
Marijuana does not appear to affect actual memory. You still remember your name and address, parents, childhood, and whatever you've learned along life's highways and byways. Cannabis can be a memory trigger, which means that the experience is likely to remind the user of things that s/he has associated with cannabis in the past. There is some historical evidence that it's even been helpful for some seniors to retain or recover memories and recognition.
A short-term memory interruption is common, however. A speaker may lose track of what he was saying just a moment ago. This effect is temporary while high and does not impact memory in general. It is really a fleeting distraction, and the description is misleading, because "short term memory" refers to thoughts that have not formed into memory yet. It's like the moment before you begin to type at your computer; you haven't hit the keys yet, so there is nothing to save. But if you reconstruct what led up to the idea, you will probably think of it again.
Is cannabis an escape?
Most people consider cannabis to be an experience enhancer rather than an escape device. If you feel good, it may make everything seem even better. When some people feel down or depressed, smoking may be "inappropriate" and they might get more into their problems. But, many report that it may lead to a new understanding or perspective on a problem, helping to resolve it and lift one's mood. It has been extremely helpful to people with terminal illness, helping them shake off depression and live out their remaining time with dignity and relatively good cheer.
For some people it is definitely an escape, but whether that is good or bad depends on the way that it is used. If it allows perspective and insight, that is good; if it is an avoidance mechanism, that is not a good use of cannabis. This is where the concepts of sensible and responsible adult use apply.
Insights and creativity
People often get a new perspective on a familiar scene or problem, a seemingly profound thought or burst of creativity. There is a sense of awe, revelation and realization. Stoned insights tend to fall into three categories: 1) A deeper recognition or understanding of an already known truth or perception; 2) A new way of looking at something; 3) Playful fantasies and ideas.
It can result in uncontrollable giggling about silly ideas, or a burst of complex insights, such as when Carl Sagan solved a physics equation while "under the influence." It can draw on the appreciation of a hitherto overlooked phenomenon, or reveal profound metaphoric relationships that apply to one's own life. It can separate the consumer from the immediacy of life and lead to a more balanced perspective of their own situation. The possibilities are limitless because each set and setting is unique, and therefore capable of new ways of looking at things. That's spontaneous mental generation.
Unlike alcohol intoxication, people who feel the effect of cannabis are aware of that fact and tend to moderate their behavior accordingly. For example, most people prefer not to drive when high since they know that their perceptions are somewhat altered even when not impaired. There is an effect wherein you may experience a feeling that you are simultaneously observing your own actions with an objective eye at the same time as you are doing the action, giving a new sense of perspective. At the same time, certain experiences may be infused with a new sensibility, such as "how can people go out and get drunk like that? I'm glad I chose cannabis instead." Just don't get judgmental about it. Many people report that cannabis makes them more open-minded and tolerant of diversity.