I'm not here to judge you or cheer you on if you're a singer who likes to partake in the use of marijuana. The reality of the matter is that many people smoke and vape weed socially and habitually, and it is becoming more and more of a normalized hobby as time goes by. As you may fear, there are some adverse side effects when it comes to combining singing and weed. Some positive side effects occur when you combine the two, so let's talk about it all!
As a fair warning, I will try to reference and link to professional sources in the medical arena that have done studies, but there is not as much data out there yet as we would like to have. This especially applies to newer methods of weed consumption like vaping and dabbing. Many more studies will be released in the future that may contradict what health professionals now claim about the use of marijuana.
Marijuana has some very common negative side effects when it comes to your singing and your speaking voice. One of the leading problems with weed is that it dries out your mouth. A dry mouth paired with singing can be an absolute nightmare. It can cause you to become hoarse, mess up the clarity of your lyrics, and mess with your vocal range.
A more serious concern with marijuana and your vocals is the damage to your body over time. A study by Meehan-Atash in 2019 found that cannabis smokers have dark vocal folds, as shown by laryngoscopy. It also suggested that marijuana can cause lung and throat injury due to the by-products of smoking. The study shows that this rings even more true for heavy users of the drug.
One main concern I hear with weed and singing is that it can make your voice crack and make you go completely hoarse. While it can dry out your voice and cause you to become hoarse more easily, it is not likely to cause your voice to crack unless you are going through some extreme dryness and oversinging or overconsuming marijuana. Voice cracks more often happen when singers strain to sing outside of their range or have tension in muscles within their larynx, which marijuana has not been linked to causing since it is often used as a muscle relaxer.
Related Post: How To Avoid Voice Cracks When Singing
A 2018 study by Tuhanioglu, along with a few colleagues for the Journal of Voice, found that the effects of vaping may be milder than smoking, but the long-term effects of vaping on lung health are still unknown. This study and similar studies also focus on comparing cigarettes to e-cigarettes and not smoking marijuana with vaping, so more research is needed to be conclusive.
Vaping may likely be harmful to your singing voice, but less bad than consuming marijuana by smoking it due to the combustion that occurs with the temperature levels involved with smoking. According to Dr. Reena Gupta, there is still evidence of irreversible damage to the vocal lining and cancer risk with any inhalation of marijuana.
You may find that you experience less dry mouth when you vape, but you can also consider other options for ingesting weed. You can consider edibles, which won't cause any damage to your voice at all. You can also consider dabbing concentrates, which some consider to have less adverse effects on your throat than cannabis flower.
Smoking cigarettes has been linked to the development of polyps on your vocal cords that can cause them to become larger over time. Larger vocal cords cause your voice to be deeper, while smaller vocal cords are found in singers with higher voices. In a blog post on the Cleveland Clinic website, Dr. Candace Hrelec says the jury is still out when it comes to smoking or vaping pot and making your voice deeper.
She states, "I haven't seen as many cases of polypoid corditis in those who smoke only marijuana. There isn't enough research looking at these voice changes. People who smoke marijuana may also smoke cigarettes. So which one is causing the vocal cord effects? Or maybe both are? It's hard to say without more evidence and research."
Like alcohol, marijuana will often allow you to enjoy a moment much more intensely than you would if you were sober. According to WebMD, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, THC, stimulates the part of your brain that responds to pleasure. This stimulation floods you with a chemical called dopamine, which gives you a euphoric feeling that can easily take your music experience to new heights.
While you may think you are singing better, you may not actually be. What you are hearing and a friend of yours that is not high is hearing may be two completely different things. Weed can make you sing better, in your opinion, but it may not be a good idea to attempt a performance or studio recording in this state.
Cannabinoids like THC and CBD are well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties, which can help singers who are congested from cold or allergic reactions. Marijuana is also a muscle relaxant that can help you sing more clearly, and expressively with relaxed muscles in your larynx, mouth, and face.
Marijuana has been known to cause some people anxiety, yet acts as an anxiety reliever for many others. It really is a case-by-case thing, but many singers use marijuana to calm their fears before a performance or recording. But don't forget that this will likely dry out your voice. A product like XyliMelts can provide help with this issue.
In her 2017 Netflix documentary, "Gaga: Five Foot Two," Lady Gaga expressed that marijuana helps her with the chronic pain she experiences from fibromyalgia, which is a muscular disorder that can lead to pain, fatigue, and mood issues. She also says it helps with her writing process. "I smoke a lot of pot when I write music. So I'm not gonna, like, sugar coat it for '60 Minutes' that, you know, I'm some, like, sober human being 'cause I'm not," she explains.
Country superstar Willie Nelson is well-known for his weed-smoking habits in the celebrity music world. In his 2019 interview with Rolling Stone, he told them that smoking weed actually saved his life. "I wouldn't be alive. It saved my life, really. I wouldn't have lived 85 years if I'd have kept drinking and smoking like I was when I was 30, 40 years old," he said. "I think that weed kept me from wanting to kill people. And probably kept a lot of people from wanting to kill me, too."
In 2020 on the "Joe Rogan Experience," singer and actress Miley Cyrus voiced that she had a hard time keeping a work-life balance while she was working on Disney Channel's "Hannah Montana" throughout her teenage years. This stress led her to smoke a lot of weed. Cyrus also stated that she's been sober since the time she got vocal surgery in 2019 after she learned the negative effects smoking could have on her singing.
Related Post: Does Alcohol Make You Sing Better?
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
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