Sex Goes to Pot

Marijuana has long been associated with sex. In just a few days, recreational marijuana will be legal here in California. As a legal product here and in other States, we’ll try to explain what is known about pot’s ability to enhance sex.

First. Let’s look at the current status. In 2018, the recreational use of marijuana will be legal across essentially the entire West Coast- California, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada. It will also be legal in Massachusetts, Colorado, Alaska and Maine. Along with the District of Columbia, there are 8 states with expansive legal marijuana laws.

In 2018, medical marijuana will be legal in Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota (decriminalized), Illinois (decriminalized), Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland (decriminalized), New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut (decriminalized), New York (decriminalized, but sort of- smoking , Rhode Island (decriminalized), New Hampshire, Hawaii, and Vermont.

Some states have legalized marijuana but only under extreme and sometimes preposterous regulations. Virginia, for example, has long legalized medical marijuana, but only with a doctor’s prescription, which doctors are not allowed to do under federal law, so basically the law is meaningless. Medical marijuana derived CBD oil is legal in Alabama, Missouri, and Mississippi, but only for severe epilepsy. In South Carolina

Oklahoma has the strictest anti-marijuana laws in the nation. People are still serving life sentences there just for possession. A 2011 law proscribed life in prison for making hash brownies. You can get a year in prison just for having traces in your system. A 2015 initiative in Oklahoma to legalize medical marijuana qualified for the ballot, but the unbelievably corrupt, anti-science, and unqualified current head of the EPA but then Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, illegally rewrote the initiative to change its meaning. Pruitt’s efforts were thrown out by the court and it will be back on the ballot in its original form in 2018.

There are still places you can go to jail for possession, but they are all States I try to avoid. Idaho can throw you in jail for a year, and six months in Indiana. In Kansas you also face a year in prison for a first offense of a small amount, and in 2015 a woman had her child taken from her and faced 30 years in prison for her use of cannabis to treat her debilitating Crohn’s Disease. Public outrage probably led to the 1 year probation she received this year after a pea deal (where you plead guilty to whatever they tell you in order to stop the madness.) Right after that she left Kansas, which seems like a smart move. You can also go to jail for possession in Arkansas, Kentucky, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, New Mexico, Florida, and way too many other States.

The reasons for outlawing marijuana beginning in the 1920s, while complicated, most likely included racist intent. The so-called modern war against drugs began in the 1970s, and was originally implemented as a means to arrest minorities and hippies to get a felony conviction, thus depriving them of voting rights and disrupting their communities. This is not a wild conspiracy theory. Former Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman said in March 2016: “You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Anti-marijuana laws have been used to target minorities, do illegal body cavity searches on women, and seize property. They have always been wildly disproportionate, given that there is so little evidence of societal harm. I never used illegal drugs (I don’t even drink) and bought into many of the lies, until my friends convinced me to try it to treat my chronic pain that does not respond to opioids. It was miraculous, reducing my pain enough to allow me to sleep when things got really bad.

While now widely recognized by science as having medical use, the FDA still considers it a Schedule 1 drug, meaning that it has no known medical use. Under the Trump administration, that seems unlikely to change. The current head of the FDA is a far right pro-pharma advocate with many industry ties who has promoted crackpot beliefs such as that Medicaid makes patients have worse outcomes than no insurance at all. Little is known about his stance on marijuana. The Attorney General supports criminalizing all marijuana use for the same political and racists reasons the Nixon administration did. Under the strongly anti-science Trump administration, a commission headed by the most unpopular Governor in the country, Chris Christie, urged the administration to ignore marijuana’s potential to help with the opioid crises. This required the commission to ignore the opposite conclusion from over 10,000 advocates submitted to the White House’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, and the dozens of peer-reviewed studies that have concluded that legal cannabis access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use, spending, abuse, hospitalization, and mortality.

One of my favorite sex partners found that marijuana was a disinhibitor for her and helped her get into the proper spirit at swing parties. That gave me a more positive view of pot long before I began using it for pain.

Getting at the truth about sex and pot, where science and anecdotal evidence do not always match up, is tricky. Research has been strictly controlled and limited in the U.S., and we are only now just beginning to get a serious body of research. Research in the 1970s showed that it reduces testosterone enough to impair libido in many women and some men. That research, though, has since been falsified, and the majority of studies find no significant lowering of testosrone.

The truth appears to be more complicated. A 1984 report found that it enhanced lovemaking in two-thirds of respondents, but had a negative impact it in the other third. Studies since then have been wildly contradictory. In a non-scientific anecdotal survey published in 2011 in Psychology Today, 67% of respondents said marijuana enhances sex. Around 20% reported that marijuana’s sexual effect depends on the dose, strain, and the smoker’s mood.

The Australian Research Centre in Sex did a study in 2009 that indicated that male users of canabis “a had a doubling of the likelihood of reporting two or more partners.” Women who reported frequent cannabis consumption were also more likely to report more than two sexual partners in the previous year. That same study found that men reported that they felt that they orgasmed too quickly. Researchers felt that this may be because their time perception was skewed, making time seem to go by more quickly.

Just last November, the Stanford University School of Medicine published the first study to examine the relationship between marijuana use and frequency of sexual intercourse at the population level in the United States. What it found is that cannabis users have more sex than non-cannabis users (20 percent more). There is, however, no causal correlation, but it is further evidence that cannabis use does not reduce sex drive.

Not surprisingly, there is not a lot of research on using pot to make sex better, as sex positive scientific funding is very hard to come by. We primarily have to rely on anecdotal evidence. So far, the anecdotal evidence is quite strong for a positive effect on sex.

For some, Indica allows sexual activity even with chronic pain. For others, it helps them get out of their heads. Some feel it helps delay their ejaculation.

However, positive results are not true for everyone. A study by La Trobe University in Melbourne found that regular marijuana smokers experienced premature ejaculation three times more than those who don’t use marijuana, and The Journal of Sexual Medicine published a study suggesting a link between marijuana and erectile dysfunction. This is early research, though, and not considered definitive. Daily users have reported difficulty achieving orgasm or took too long to get to orgasm. Keep in mind that these results were found for habitual, not casual users. Also, dosage matters, and that is going to be very individual.

It is not a miracle drug for sex, but is reported to have positive effects by many users. Research has been inhibited by our Federal Government’s strict controls on it, so there is simply a lot we just don’t know yet.

Keeping all of that in mind, next month we will look at popular specific strains for sex, adult products that incorporate the active ingredients in marijuana as well, and adult products that are made with hemp in Sex Goes to Pot Part 2.