We’re not the first people to experiment with how marijuana can affect your sex life — hello, remember the ’60s? But with recreational cannabis now legal in 10 states, and with more states legalizing medical use and moving toward full legalization every year, it only seemed logical to take a closer look how how cannabis products can make things more exciting in the bedroom. Hey, if it involves making sex go from good to great, we’re definitely down to experiment.
Why Try Cannabis In the Bedroom?
While your Aunt Rhoda may have scarred and inspired you with her stories of pot-induced sexual liberation in her days at Woodstock, there is some actual science to back up the use of cannabis to boost your sex life. Daniel Winer, director of marketing for Starbuds in Canada, told us that “there are studies out there that indicate that cannabis enhances sexual relations, both in frequency and from a pleasure perspective.” One study even showed that daily users of cannabis have 20% more sex than non-users. But why?
There’s a “a loss of inhibition, and feeling more comfortable in your own skin,” when you use cannabis, says Winer, who recommends using a THC-dominant sativa strain with CBD if you’re looking to increase pleasure and relaxation. Another rec? Start small.
“If you are new to cannabis, start with a low THC count and go from there. You don’t want to get too high and have a negative experience. Starting with a strain in the 4% to 8% THC range is a great entry level to adding cannabis to your sex life.” Though labeling varies by state, most products will list their THC and CBD content on the labels, and you can always ask the budtender at your dispensary for more information. The last thing you want is to set yourself up for a sexy night only to end up catatonic and drooling in front of an episode of Bob’s Burgers.
THC, CBD, and Terpenes
There are three main things you’ll hear about when looking for a cannabis product: THC, CBD, and terpenes.
THC refers to the chemicals in cannabis that are psychoactive, the ones that we’re familiar with as making us “high.” In general, the higher the THC in a product, the higher it will get you.
CBD is cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive substance found in marijuana that has been used in holistic medicine for centuries and that can help with pain relief, inflammation, and anxiety. You can buy products that contain just CBD, or products that combine the two compounds.
Then, there are terpenes, the molecular components of cannabis. “That’s where the magic happens,” according to Andy Singh, founder of Nuvata. By experimenting not just with indica, sativa, and hybrid strains, but getting down to the actual molecular structure of each strain to see which of their specific terpenes have which effects on the body, growers can create a very specific experience for the user. Some terpenes to look out for if you’re interested in boosting arousal? “The combination of terpenes Limonene and Linalool (both relax and inspire) sets a stage for a great night together.”
A little background: I’m a regular recreational cannabis user who has a pretty great sex life, but lately I’ve had some troubles managing anxiety, which can also manifest in physical stress and tension headaches (the old cliche, I know!) that don’t exactly put me in the mood. So, I decided to try to find the cannabis product that could soothe my body and ease my worries in a way that would help me focus on physical intimacy without getting distracted by those little nagging worries.
Edibles are the method of consuming cannabis that my partner and I are most familiar with, so this one was an easy sell. I tried a Strawberry CBD Chocolate Bar from Blank Brand. It boasted a nearly 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC (it actually contains a little more CBD), so it seemed like a safe bet for a relaxing high. Indeed, it was. About 45 minutes after eating a chunk of the chocolate (the recommended 10 mg dose), I started to feel warm and tingly. I was able to zone out, no longer preoccupied with the worries of my day, just resting on the couch watching My Cat From Hell with the hubs. Not exactly erotica, but when you get this relaxed, it’s easier than ever for a little romance to get started.
In terms of full mind-body relaxation that lasted long enough to boost the enjoyment of intercourse, these edibles were one of my favorite methods of incorporating cannabis in the bedroom, and my partner agreed. I hadn’t used edibles with such a high ratio of CBD before, and the physical effect seemed undeniable.
This bar was also genuinely delicious, a blend of dark chocolate with freeze-dried strawberries and puffed quinoa, and no off-putting skunky flavors. The only downside was that they take a little while to kick in, and the length of time that takes can vary person to person.
I knew this would be a hard sell, because my partner doesn’t like smoking, but I figured I’d give it a try for myself in case the results were unbeatable. Again trying to focus on what works best in the bedroom, I sampled a pre-rolled Enviroganic-Certified Argyle joint from ZOMA. The flower used in this product has a 1:1 CBD to THC ratio. Smoking it did immediately provide a gentle body calm and a head high that was slightly euphoric but without being overwhelming (I still felt alert enough to follow the plot of an old episode of Mad Men). However, the smell that lingered on my clothes and skin was a huge turn off. I felt great, but I decided that joints work better for me on solo nights.
I was very intrigued by vapes, hoping that they could offer a balance: the faster onset high of a joint, with the more odorless experience of an edible. First I tried a Bae Vapes disposable vape. They have three different varieties, and I chose to use the hybrid, which came in a cake batter flavor. Indica strains of cannabis are thought to produce a calming body high, Sativa supposedly gives you feelings of euphoria and energy, and hybrids exhibit a blend of those traits, which I thought would be the best bet for boosting arousal and intimacy.
These vapes judged on looks alone are super cute — they’re rose gold, and the light that indicates that it’s working when you inhale is shaped like a heart. The cake batter flavor was also really fun. The vapor produced was nearly odorless and the smell didn’t linger, and there were no funny aftertastes (stinky breath after smoking or vaping is a huge pet peeve of mine, and it wasn’t an issue with this vape). As for the high? Perfectly pleasant and mostly heady, and just the encouragement my partner and I needed for some fun role playing.
Another hit was the “Full Body” disposable vape from Nuvata. By finding marijuana strains with the right balance of terpenes and balance of THC and CBD, they create vapes that produce very specific results — in this case, a full-body high. The light grape flavor was tasty, and the body high produced was deep and immediate. In fact, physically this specific vape seemed to have the biggest result in terms of pleasure — my body felt super-attuned to touch and responded very strongly to simulation from my partner.
Only one of the products that I tried had only CBD: Soothe Hemp CBD Body Balm from Shanti Wellness. Scented with lavender and eucalyptus oils, this blend of beeswax, hemp oil, and coconut oil comes in a small jar in a solid but spreadable state. It can be used as a muscle balm, and we used it as a massage oil. Rubbing the balm briefly between your fingertips melts it to a liquid state, which glides effortlessly over the skin. The experience overall of using it during massage was relaxing and sensual, and the smell made it feel like we were at a spa. It was hard to say if the CBD actually had anything to do with just how languid I felt afterward, or if that was just the effect of the massage itself. That being said, the luxurious texture of the balm and its natural fragrance definitely elevated the at-home massage experience.
After trying these different methods over the course of a few weeks, I decided that yes, cannabis really can help improve your sex life. At the end of a long day it really helped me relax and clear my mind, so I could focus on romantic encounters without anxiety creeping in. The enhanced physical stimulation was a big bonus, too. While I won’t be incorporating cannabis into my everyday sex life, I’ll definitely be keeping some on hand for special occasions or those nights where I need just a little extra help getting in the mood.
A version of this story was published April 2019.