Jessica O'Reilly, Carly Stojsic

Couples say cannabis enhances intimacy

Toronto’s evolving canna-culture has led to canna-coupling and canna-sex

With the legalization of cannabis and the opening of the city’s first legal dispensaries, cannabis culture continues to expand, and it’s shaping the way we date, relate and have sex.

Daters can now specifically seek and meet like-minded singles with apps like 420Singles and High There, and data suggests that Canadian daters are overwhelmingly cannabis-friendly. According to a survey of over 4,000 singles by online dating site WhatsYourPrice.com, 82 per cent are open to dating someone who smokes marijuana regularly and  the over half say they’re willing to get high on a first date.

“Canna-coupling is a thing,” explains Toronto-based trend forecaster and cannavangelist Carly Stojsic. “Cannabis legalization has given way to many couples experimenting and consuming cannabis together in Toronto. I see more couples openly using cannabis together socially across all demographics at events and local hot spots. The cannabis experience provides an avenue for emotional connection and discovery.”

Stojsic’s observations are in line with research findings, with one study revealing that couples who consume cannabis are more likely to experience an intimate encounter — ranging from meaningful conversations to loving, supportive and caring interactions within two hours of consumption.

And cannabis may enhance your sex life too. Beyond cannabinoid-infused lubes absorbed by mucous membranes, one study of 28,176 women and 22,943 men found that cannabis users across all demographic groups have sex 20 per cent more often than those who don’t use cannabis. Many users report that they feel more relaxed and in the moment when they use cannabis, and this not only increases their openness to sex, but also makes the experience more fulfilling, as they feel more connected to their own bodies and to their partners.

“It’s not just that it helps me to relax, but it also makes me less self-conscious, and this helps to drown out all the distractions.”

“It’s not just that it helps me to relax, but it also makes me less self-conscious, and this helps to drown out all the distractions. I can feel every sensation and really tune into sex when I’m not worried about my daughter in the next room or what my lover is thinking,” says Leslieville’s Trisha (who asked to remain anonymous because of a heated debate over cannabis use in her local mom group). “These are things that tend to bother me and have a history of killing the mood even when I’ve wanted to have sex in the past. Cannabis helps, and I really do have better orgasms.”

It makes sense that the decrease in inhibitions and self-consciousness associated with cannabis use may facilitate arousal and orgasm, as the experience of “letting go” encourages sexual response. In fact, the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, which is the section behind the left eye responsible for sound decision making, is believed to shut down during orgasm. If cannabis helps you to relinquish control of intrusive thoughts and distractions, it has the potential to increase the likelihood of orgasm.

Another study looked at women’s cannabis use and sex. It found that 68 per cent of users reported having more pleasurable sex; 16 per cent said they were undecided or unaware; and 16 per cent reported that cannabis use ruined their sexual experience. This is an important finding as, like with all substances, the effects vary from person to person.

There are, of course, drawbacks to cannabis use, including the potential of substance abuse and its associated relational and sexual effects. Although a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found no connection between cannabis use and sexual dysfunction, more research is required to better understand its effects on diverse populations and interactions with other substances. Ultimately, you are the expert in your own body, and if you experience an outcome (positive or negative), acknowledge it without pressure rather than worrying about how other people are affected.

Stojsic believes we’re experiencing the beginning of a new canna-culture emphasizing that cannabis is a social substance that will affect how we form and interact in relationships.

Trisha and others hope Stojsic is right. “I don’t drink alcohol, but I’m judged for smoking weed as a mother. Dads don’t face the same scrutiny, and being black adds even more judgment in my mostly white neighbourhood. If Toronto is as progressive as we claim to be, it’s time to cut the stigma and remember that the folks reaping the financial reward of legalization are not the same as those of us who have faced persecution for years.”

Talking to Trisha served as a reminder that sex and drugs have more than just pleasure in common, and dismantling stigma means digging through the layers of our own privilege to promote pleasure for all.

This column refers to cannabis use for adults.

Jess O’Reilly is a sought-after speaker, author and sexologist. SexWithDrJess.com.