A new study from New York University’s Center for Drug Use and HIV Research finds that by comparison, sex while high is better than sex when drunk.
The study involved 24 adults who used marijuana before sex and who were asked to compare their sexual experiences while stoned to their sexual experiences while under the influence of alcohol. On many fronts, stoned sex proved to be the better experience, being associated with less risky, more intimate encounters and longer lasting, more intense orgasms.
Study participants were asked about partner interactions and contexts before sex, partner choice, perceived attractiveness (of both themselves and others), disinhibition and feelings of regret after sex. And while both weed and alcohol-influenced sexual experiences were associated with a degree of sexual dysfunction -marijuana was linked to greater risk of vaginal dryness in women and alcohol to greater risk of impotence in men- the deeper connections attained via marijuana combined with the greater prevalence of hasty decisions about sex tied to alcohol strongly tipped the scales in favour of marijuana as the drug of choice for sexual experiences.
“Alcohol use was commonly associated with social outgoingness and use facilitated connections with potential sexual partners,” said the study’s authors. “However, alcohol was more likely than marijuana to lead to atypical partner choice or post-sex regret.”
Researchers found that whereas alcohol served to numb sensations and often produced a more self-focused experience, marijuana was said to enhance emotions and allowed for more creative, compassionate sex, complete with more foreplay. One 32 year old female participant said, “When I’m high, it feels like my orgasms are magnified at least by five times.” A 20 year old male participant stated, “With alcohol, it’s more like ‘Alright, let’s do this, let’s get my orgasm.’ With marijuana it’s like ‘Okay, let’s enjoy this moment. Let’s live in the moment.”
The study’s authors state that the effects of marijuana on sexual behaviour need further investigation. “With marijuana becoming more accepted in the US along with more liberal state-level policies, it is important to examine and compare users’ psychosocial and physical sexual experiences and sexual risk behavior associated with these drugs,” say the authors whose work is published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.
Another study in the United States on sexual behaviour among young women between the ages of 15 and 24 found an association between the number of alcoholic drinks consumed and condom use, with women who consumed more drinks being less likely to use condoms. The study also concluded that women who used marijuana and were dating a romantic partner for three or more months were more likely to have unprotected sex.
The risks and benefits of marijuana use in comparison to those of alcohol use will be central considerations for the nine-member task force recently appointed by the Canadian federal government to review the issue of marijuana legalization and regulation. One task force member, Catherine Zahn of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, has stated that although the CAMH has come out in support of legalization, some issues including accessibility, minimum age for buyers and allowable concentrations of active ingredients in marijuana need to be carefully examined by the federal task force. “We know that like alcohol, like cigarettes, like gambling, there are individuals who may be at risk for more harms,” Dr. Zahn said.
The federal government plans to introduce legislation on marijuana legalization sometime in the spring of 2017.