We didn’t do it right at first. We drank it.
I remember she sliced mangos up into small triangular slivers while I chattered anxiously behind her. I took out the small brown vial and dumped about half of it in the blender. We sipped the smoothie. It had a faint woodsy aftertaste but the coconut masked most of it. In forty minutes, we were weird. My tongue was stuck in a thought-loop, dancing around the crowns of my teeth. My friend tried and failed to recall a Paul Simon lyric. As we cuddled in bed, I felt her breath like a small beat on my back. I’d gained five new pulses: one on each shoulder, on the back of my neck, my belly button, my crotch. We ate chips. Everything, everything was funny.
Then it was morning. “So here’s this for you,” I announced, handing her the remainder of the brown vial, filled with Foria. THC-infused coconut oil, intended for use as marijuana-laced personal lubricant. I had another at home for me. “It’s actually meant for your vagina. It’s lube,” I told her. Her eyes widened with pre-pleasure and I could see her afternoon wasting away into a creaking bed and AA batteried twitch.
Later my friend reported back, it was “like the lusty itch I had in my loins suddenly turned into an existential mission towards a long and gratifying orgasm.” I’d tried it too. “Yeah,” I’d agreed with her. Though I would have added something about the existential pull of branches. About each muscle contraction feeling like a ring inside of a tree.
How much there is still to be revealed about marijuana in this decade in America for the general public! I’m riffing on Allen Ginsberg’s pitch-perfect 1966 essay in The Atlantic, but the part of me that saw my friend’s eyes light up, or listens to R. Kelly’s “Sex Weed,” or has dated many a stoner knows that we still really don’t know everything about the experience of being high. Especially being high while touching other people. “Marijuana is a useful catalyst for specific optical and aural aesthetic perceptions,” Ginsberg wrote. “I apprehended the structure of certain pieces of jazz & classical music in a new manner under the influence of marijuana, and these apprehensions have remained valid in years of normal consciousness.”
In the not-so-scientific sense, weed puts a salt on the white rice of touch. It’s the feeling of having fingertips at the end of your fingertips. High sex is infused with immediate bodily connections. It cuts through the stitching of thought and brings you to a more present place with whoever you’re with (maybe you’re with yourself). Ginsberg called this a “more direct, slower, absorbing, occasionally microscopically minute engagement with sensing phenomena.” I don’t think I can do much better than Ginsberg.
And then in the very scientific sense, the collaboration of marijuana and sexuality has been fairly limited. Weed’s only been legalized in some areas for a short amount of time, so the terrain is just edgy enough to remain on the fringes of academia. But there are some larger generalizations we can glean. In 1984, Ronald Weller and James Halikas released a study on marijuana use and sexual behavior and found that marijuana increased sexual pleasure and enhanced desire, and it’s associated with more frequent sexual activity and more partners. They describe marijuana as having an aphrodisiac quality for a few reasons: it loosens inhibitions, it enhances sensate focus, it slows perceptions of time [read: sex feels like it lasts longer], and it’s normally used in an already relaxed state of mind.
Of course, conflicting studies show that marijuana can decrease sex drive or increase premature ejaculation, but the jury remains out, and possibly, too stoned to tell. According to William Novak’s High Culture: Marijuana in the Lives of Americans, pot can account for increased heart rate, changes in respiration, changes in blood flow, and the release of pleasure-inducing neurochemicals like dopamine and anandamide. That’s perhaps what ol’ Allen meant by minute engagement.
Marijuana has been used by ancient Indian Ayurvedic healers and tantric sex practitioners drank cannabis for centuries as a means for libido-heightening. Dr. Lester Grinspoon, the retired Harvard Medical School professor known as “the grandfather of modern medicinal cannabis research,” told New York Magazine that marijuana has the “capacity to enhance a variety of human experiences.” Chief among those is sex. So it’s no wonder that many people today turn to marijuana to aid a plateful of sexual dysfunction or hang-ups: anorgasmia, premature ejaculation, vaginismus, sexual anxiety. In episode 401 of the Savage Lovecast, sex advice columnist and general sex guru Dan Savage advises a husband who’s calling about his wife with a low libido to simply get stoned before sex. He rattles off a list of conversations and therapies they could attempt or, he pauses, “just fucking get some weed.”
Today there’s even talk about how marijuana may transition our own sexual interests. Reddit threads are filled with waxing poetic about “highsexuality:” a certain phenomena where otherwise straight men report feeling temporarily gay while stoned. SNL recently lampooned it. But that may have more to do with marijuana loosening inhibitions than anything else. “It allows you to be more emotionally connected, free, and physically heightens the experience. I feel more animal. My mind does not wander so wildly when I’m high. I’m more focused on the present,” a 31-year-old mother, who frequently smokes pot with her partner, tells me.
Stoned Girls, a website that caters to the weed fetishist market, hosts fare such as NSFW photos of women hitting bongs, tips on places to have sex while high, and — most notable — a Naked Weed Report, filled with broadcasters stripping as they deliver the latest in weed headlines.
Rebecca Hourselt, a staff writer at Stoned Girls with a taste for the irreverent and the feminist, spoke with me about being a sexed up stoner. “From both personal experience as well as what I hear from other people — friends and strangers who wish to share things with me — being able to smoke with somebody both before and after sex creates an instant level of familiarity. There is a trust and an intimacy that would not be achieved otherwise,” Hourselt says.
“Most of the time it allows me to relax and clear my head,” she explains. “I think that especially for women, not being able to let go of the stresses of the day is what inhibits them from initiating sex or really being able to enjoy it. Marijuana allows for that. Also, a lot of women (myself included) say that weed makes them feel sexier,” Hourselt tells me. “Once I smoked a particular type of weed that literally made my vagina tingle.”
Hourselt’s humorous, contemplative sex and weed column, where she pairs marijuana with different sex toys and positions, makes her something of a stoned sex sommelier. She recommends milder strains to a high sex novice. “I would typically recommend a sativa strain. They are more uplifting and motivational than an indica, which typically has more of a sedating effect. Asian Fantasy, for example, is good for the relief of stress and anxiety and also has arousing and tingling effects on the body,” Hourselt explains.
Though not all of stoned sex is deep, meditative thoughts. Hourselt was quick to remind me that getting high and getting naked was funny. “It’s fun and refreshing to have a naked existential debate over which is better: Peanut Butter Crunch or Reese’s Puffs (PBC all day every day),” Hourselt jokes. But it’s important, she stresses, that both partners are on the same plain while smoking during sex. “Usually all parties involved are high. After conducting some extensive ‘research,’ I have found that if only one person smokes, it actually alienates the other person because you’re just on two different levels.”
Photo via Occupy Weed Street
Stoner etiquette is at the forefront of Lorna Shannon and Harrison Schultz’s minds. They’re the creators of Sex Ed for Stoners, a weekly dating seminar for marijuana enthusiasts, and organizers of Occupy Weed Street, an activist coalition fighting for marijuana legalization in New York City. Sex Ed for Stoners was created due to a skewed group dynamic Shannon and Schultz were witnessing within their organization — some members came to activist events hoping for sex. They saw their new seminar as a fun, informative way to educate the group without calling anyone out individually. “Much of the time people don’t even realize it when they exhibit creepy vibes or sexually predatory behavior. Both men and women are guilty of it,” Shannon says.
Schultz and Shannon explain the intent of the course: “What we teach at Sex Ed for Stoners is managing your own expectations and neuroses and cultivating social skills, in a sex positive way. Rather than shaming individuals for poor behavior, we teach them how to go out and get what they are looking for outside the group, in their every day lives.” And it’s not just for the kush-happy. “We’ve had people come to this class who don’t smoke weed at all and just wanted to learn how to be less socially awkward.”
As educators, I turned to the couple for tips on how to get a healthy, stoned sex life going. They claim the strain of choice for high sex depends — as with most things — entirely on you and what kind of high and what kind of sex you’re having. Shannon directs me to the site Leafly, where I am able to explore different strains by their attributes and effects. There are over 83 strains boasting arousing properties, like Sour Dream which, “will spark arousal, euphoria, and a touch of the giggles. Keeps you and your honey’s mood in amorous spirits,” or Love Potion #1, which one customer reviewed as “Makes you so horny, ha!”
For beginners, Shannon cautions to study strains and test out different weed before sex, but points to hybrid strains as providing the best of both worlds. “I recommend starting foreplay with a hybrid that has relaxing indica qualities to get you into your body while also providing the stimulating cerebral sativa effects for deepening connection.”
Stoners generally gravitate towards one another in the context of dating, and therefore, in the context of sex. The same kind of people that might toke up to alleviate everyday anxieties are the same kind who benefit the most from weed in the bedroom. “Marijuana is very good for stress and anxiety relief as well as introspection and connection to higher self and source. It aids in more fulfulling, intimate connection to a sexual partner. It quiets the mind, allows you to be present, and awakens the senses which enhance the experience of sexual pleasures,” Shannon explains. “For many just the pungent aroma of a dank bud can send the senses reeling and turn on the libido in a heartbeat.” But what is high sex like for you, I ask.
“Most stoners feel that high sex is the best sex. I think high foreplay, which most women think most men don’t know how to do, can turn into an adventure, an exploration of the senses and the flesh of your partner, when you let go of stress and let the anxieties of every day life melt away with every inhalation of THC,” Shannon describes to me.
“What’s not better high?” a 26-year-old self-identified male stoner told me when I posed the same question. “I feel like it creates less thought and makes you act more naturally….there’s more flow to go with.”
Why, in a world of Viagra, vibrators, pornography, sex tracking apps, and seemingly every sexual enhancement known to the world, are we are still looking for a way to make sex better with weed, an ancient plant? A few months ago, I asked Mathew Gerson, the creator of Foria, the aforementioned marijuana-enhanced lubricant: “For most women, relaxation is a key attribute in the experience of pleasure and arousal,” he explains, noting that marijuana is the key to this type of loss of mind, this complete letting go. “We live in the time and era where we have a lot of residual stresses coursing through our bodies because of modern technology and the pace we’re all living. The body is sort of new to this pace. The body’s been around a lot longer than our iPhones have,” Gerson says.
“Melting” was a word I kept hearing as I talked to veteran stoner lovers, pot activists, and weed-lube newbs alike. And it was a word I could relate to. In a recent New York Times’ study of sex-related Google searches, it was found that our most frequent questions about sex were worries. Things like penis size, sex duration, and vagina smell topped the list of anxieties we type into our Google oracles, begging for solutions. The problem, it seems, is not our dick size or how quickly we come or if a vagina smells like a vagina, but ourselves and our minds and the nasty, invasive thoughts that ticker away when we get into a bed with someone. But what if those thoughts could disappear, at the flash of a lighter? What if our thoughts could sail away with a blow back?
Engage with the full spectrum of sensing phenomena. Just melt. That’s what Ginsberg would advise, and I usually trust Allen Ginsberg.