If you’re curious about what effect cannabis might have on your sex life, you’re in good company: Sex and weed, as it turns out, have a long and tangled relationship.
Before cannabis was outlawed in the United States—loooong before, as we’ll find out—it was a fairly uncontroversial folk remedy, as were opium, cocaine, and a host of other medications we know better than to prescribe these days.
Of course, unlike those other drugs, cannabis isn’t objectively harmful, and one can’t overdose on it.
The earliest references to cannabis in medical texts actually date back an incredible 4,700 years, and among a slew of other conditions it was prescribed for—stomach troubles, chronic pain, anxiety—it was also used as an aphrodisiac. (We’re not sure exactly when the first references to sex and weed were, but it was likely thousands of years ago in Indian or Chinese text.)
Interestingly, cannabis has also been thought to have the opposite effect, being prescribed as a depressant of sexual desire, a finding borne out by some studies.
So…what’s the real story about mixing sex and weed? If there’s any consensus, it’s that imbibing cannabis definitely affects your sex life; it’s just that—as with so many other effects of cannabis—the way you react to it is highly personal. Here’s what research has to say on the topic.
Research focusing exclusively on sex and weed is hard to come by, so to speak, but what little there is appears to back up the notion that cannabis can be both an inhibitor and an enabler for sexual response. Broadly speaking, this was the conclusion of a 1984 study cited in Psychology Today.
Why marijuana inspires such opposite responses remains a mystery, although the euphoria associated with both sex and weed is less of a question. According to Dr. Mitch Earlywine, a professor at SUNY Albany: “That CB1 receptor seems to be involved in improved tactile sensations and general euphoria,” referring to cannabinoid receptors in our nervous system activated by THC (one of the principal “active ingredients” in cannabis).
In other words, cannabis primes us for overall greater sensitivity and euphoria; what we choose to do with that feeling is more of a personal decision. And while getting high might make some of us less inclined to procreate, research indicates that regular cannabis users are actually having more sex than those who abstain, according to this recent report.
Some people theorize that the range of outcomes that cannabis inspires (increased libido or decreased interest in sex) might be due to the very different characteristics of sativa-dominant strains versus indica-dominant strains. Many people find sativa heady and energizing (for some people it’s also anxiety-making), while indica-dominant strains are often characterized as giving you a relaxing, heavy “body high.”
But again, in actual practice, our assumptions are often turned on their head. According to sex columnist Lisa Kirkman (as quoted on herb.co), those potentially anxiety-making and distracting sativas are also implicated in overall better orgasms—at least for women—because they increase both heart rate and blood flow to the erogenous zones.
If you’re thoroughly confused by now, you’re not alone: In the absence of authoritative studies on marijuana and sex, it’s up to us to draw our own conclusions about what works best for us. Depending on your sex—and, if you’re biologically female, the current phase of your menstrual cycle—there’s a good chance that trying different strains and intake methods of cannabis will deliver very different results.
If you’re up for the challenge, collect a couple of different strains of cannabis that exhibit a broad range of cannabinoid ratios—if you’re uncertain what this means, just engage with one of our friendly and knowledgeable budtenders—and observe the effects. Does this one make you feel happy, relaxed and receptive? After trying that one would you rather be reorganizing your sock drawer?
While we can give very general guidelines, at the end of the day it’s a question of your physiology and your intentions that will determine what sort of effect a particular strain has on your libido. And that’s the hard part: You’re just going to have to buckle down and start experimenting!
Head on over to Bud Hut in Kelso and stock up!