Weed & Sex: It’s Complicated, But It Doesn’t Have To Be

Photographed by Lula Hyers.
Whether you’re brand new or a seasoned cannabis user, we all have questions about how best to combine cannabis and sex. That's why we enlisted Anna Duckworth, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Miss Grass, a cannabis brand for modern womxn, to dig in.
Cannabis and sex have a lot in common. They both hold a complicated and taboo place in society. They both force uncomfortable conversations, with ourselves and others. And, if approached with mindfulness and maturity, they both function as tools for connection.
Given the complications, pairing them might feel like a bad idea, but preliminary research suggests that sex and cannabis can actually work to ease tension, lower inhibition, heighten sensation, and promote deeper connection.
But even if you’re open and curious about the potential for cannabis to enhance your sex life, knowing where to start can be overwhelming. For starters, marijuana remains illegal under federal law in the United States and in many other parts of the world. This means that laws vary dramatically, state-by-state and country-by-country — and so too do product offerings. There’s very little education about cannabis, regulation, and, for the most part, there’s also very little research. Legal restrictions have made studies next to impossible to conduct, so while there are some available to the public, it’s really the responsibility of the consumer to do their personal due diligence, to listen to their body, and to determine what works best for their unique composition.
That being said, there are a few easy steps that can make introducing cannabis into your sex life a little less intimidating and, dare I say, fun even.

Know the difference between THC and CBD

Not all cannabis products get you high. In fact, many products are high in the non-intoxicating compound CBD (cannabidiol) and have have little to no THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the psychoactive compound in cannabis. Pay close attention to ratios of THC to CBD. When the ratios are balanced, the high is much more gentle. When the ratio favors CBD, the high is more subtle still. And conversely, when the ratio favors THC, the high is more intense.

Get familiar with the science (and use it to set realistic expectations)

Any time we explore new stuff with our bodies, it benefits us to round up at least a basic understanding of how it works and who’s behind the claim. The first record of cannabis being used for gynecological purposes dates back 4000 years to ancient Egypt. And while a gynecological application might not seem sexy, our reproductive health is the basis for our sexual health and happiness. Fast-forward to 1992, a scientist by the name of Raphael Mechoulam discovered a network of receptors known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which regulates things such as pain, stress, memory, and homeostasis. Now, twenty years later, researchers are beginning to study the link between cannabis and sex and the results are interesting. In one study, they found that couples who used cannabis daily had about 20% more sex during a four week period than couples who abstained from cannabis consumption during the same period. Another study has shown THC to be especially effective in heightening sensation and libido in women.
Expectation management is key to all happiness. By establishing an intention for a sexual encounter that involves cannabis, it’s so much easier to create the conditions to fully let loose and enjoy it. Are you trying to get high and be transported to a new dimension? Or do you prefer the idea of using cannabis to relax while keeping your wits about you? Whatever the case, it might mean lighting a cannabis-inspired candle, turning the lights down low (or up high), running a bath, or clearing your schedule the next day so you can revel in post-coital bliss for 12 whole hours.

Get clear about the risks

Cannabis should not be viewed as dangerous, but just like anything that alters the mind, it should be handled with caution. If you opt for a cannabis lubricant, be aware that cannabis lubricants are often oil-based and are therefore incompatible with condoms. They can degrade the material of the condom, rendering it ineffective as both a tool to prevent pregnancy and to protect from infection. And finally, do your homework on every product and make sure to source your products from retailers that you trust because the cannabis industry isn’t regulated enough to protect the consumer.

Know the laws where you live

As regulations around cannabis lift and many states and countries (Canada!) recreationally legalize the plant, it can be easy to forget that cannabis is still illegal in some places. It’s important to have a good grasp on the laws where you live. There are 10 states in the U.S. where weed is recreationally legal, which means you can access a range of products from licensed retailers (read: dispensaries) without a medical marijuana card. There are another 33 states where weed is are medically legal, which means you need a medical marijuana card to buy cannabis products from licensed retailers. And in the remaining states, cannabis is straight up illegal. The good news is that no matter which state you call home, there’s hemp-derived CBD, which is federally legal — and every bit as effective as marijuana-derived CBD.

Choose a mode of ingestion

Cannabis can be smoked. It can be vaped. It can be eaten or imbibed. You can apply it topically, or depending on the product ingest it sublingually, through the oral mucosa lining of the mouth. Each one of these modes of ingestion affect a different experience. And each one activates at a different rate and for a different period of time. These are all considerations when determining which cannabis products are right for you. In short: vaping and smoking are fastest-acting and can take effect in less than a minute, edibles can take up to two hours to kick in, and infused lubricants should be applied roughly 15-30 minutes before any play. But even with those parameters, it’s important to do your due diligence because the industry is unregulated and there’s quite a lot of variability.

Pick your product

For the purposes of sex, a cannabis-infused lubricant is a great place to start. There are THC ones — only available at licensed retailers in legal states — and these will get you high. And there are CBD lubes like the ones from Foria that won’t get you high, but promise to heighten sensation, increase blood flow and help to relax the pelvic floor. To quell any anxious feelings without the high, try a CBD vaporizer like BEBOE’s Calming CBD Blend or a massage oil like Sexy Time Oil by Apothecanna. If getting high is more your speed, try dabbling with a psychoactive tea like Kikoko’s Sensuali-Tea or smoking flower like Connect by Canndescent. These are all products that meet the highest standards (pun intended) when it comes to ingredients, third-party lab results, social responsibility, and experience — all of which are things to consider when you set out to choose the right products for you. And of course, knowing how to decode a cannabis label will help.

Have CBD on hand

If you’re new to cannabis, there might be moments where you find yourself a little too high for comfort. For a long time we’ve been told to ride those feelings out, that they will pass with time. And that’s true, you can do that, but you certainly don’t have to: CBD can be a powerful antidote for THC. As soon as you feel the paranoia creeping in, take some CBD. Before you know it, you’ll start to feel like yourself again.

Talk to your partners

Any time you engage in any type of sexual activity, flexing those communication muscles is key. Ask for consent throughout an interaction — and not just at the outset, because how we feel can change. All parties should know if you’re thinking of introducing cannabis. And while that might feel like a minimum requirement for responsible adulting, you’d be surprised by how inconspicuous a THC-infused lube can be and how dramatically and quickly it can shift your state of mind and body. Of course, not all cannabis products will make you high, but do your part to read the labels carefully and communicate clearly with your partner(s) before, during, and after experimenting.

Be a conscious consumer

While not particularly sexy, every conversation about cannabis is a political conversation. The War on Drugs was not an effort to keep the public safe from so-called dangerous drugs; it was a masterful coup to incarcerate people of color in America. The damages of this racist political agenda remain very visible in the modern day cannabis industry. Every consumer should do their part to learn about the history and identify the products and brands that are committed to social justice and equity.
Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity and would like to remind its readers that marijuana usage continues to be an offense under Federal Law, regardless of state marijuana laws.

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