From the Archives: Sex and the Stoner (2001)

By Dan Skye

Remember that scene from the movie Annie Hall? Diane Keaton and Woody Allen start to get romantic, but she puts a momentary hold on things so she can smoke some pot in order to more fully enjoy the experience? She can’t get into it without the weed.

Woody protests. “Grass. The illusion that it will make a white woman more like Billie Holiday,” he says. “I don’t know why you have to every time we make love.”

Reluctantly, she allows him to take the joint out of her hand. They start the process, but things go downhill. She proceeds to leave her body, get out of bed and contemplate the couple in bed with indifference from a chair across the room. Woody is hard-pressed to get a rise out of his partner.

“You seem sort of distant,” he observes. 

“Let’s just do it, all right?” she sighs. 

“Is it my imagination or are you just going through the motions?” he inquires. 

“You have my body.”

“But I want the whole thing!”

People who love pot love that scene, because the little drama is rooted in truth. Dr. Lester Grinspoon, the revered Harvard Medical School professor and marijuana proponent, talks about a patient he once treated “who felt marijuana was so important to his sexual experience that he no longer wanted to have sex without marijuana.”

He adds, “It caused some difficulty, because his wife was very much opposed to marijuana. She liked sex, but she didn’t like the idea that he needed marijuana for it. It was a question of how to work it out so he could have marijuana without her being exposed to it.”

In strict medical terms, Dr. Grinspoon states that cannabis is not an aphrodisiac (see “Turning On,” p. 95). However, millions of stoners beg to differ. There is certainly enough historical precedent to classify it as such. Five thousand years ago, the Chinese emperor Shen Nung—known as “the wise healer”—noted hemp’s medicinal properties for improved sex. Marijuana was a common ingredient in aphrodisiac formulas prescribed in Ayurvedic medicine of the Hindus in 1000 BC. Pot also has a place in Tantric sex practices. The Greeks were divided on the subject of cannabis and the sex drive. Dioscorides advised using the juice of marijuana seeds for treating low libido, but Galen and Pliny wrote that too much juice could cause impotence.

But let’s not get off the subject. No one is munching on pot seeds to attain a pleasure boost. It’s the smoke that makes sex great (or eaten THC)—take your pick—and smokers have known it for years. You can find references to pot’s effect on sexuality described in Arabian Nights. In 1850, Frederick Hollick published The Marriage Guide, in which readers were advised to use hashish as a sexual stimulant if their marriages were in trouble. In 1867, Louisa May Alcott, author of the American classic Little Women, wrote about the aphrodisiac properties of hashish in “Perilous Play.” One character advised the “bashful man to take hashish when he wants to offer his heart to any fair lady, for it will give him the courage of a hero, the eloquence of a poet, and the ardor of an Italian.” A century later, a survey conducted at the Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic reported that marijuana was the substance most cited as being the one most often chosen “to make sex better.”

“Marijuana can be very helpful,” says Dr. Peter Gardos, a licensed clinical psychologist and possibly the Internet’s most popular online sex therapist, proffering advice at the Oxygen, About, Thrive and My Pleasure Websites. “Things can be so greatly changed by just loosening up a bit. That might mean lighting up. People have so many hang-ups, so many concerns. They’re worried about their performance, they’re worried about their partner and on and on. There is something called ‘spectatoring,’ which is an all-too-common situation. It’s like you’re in a dream state instead of being in the here and now, part of the experience. It’s almost as if you’re a couple of steps behind yourself, almost watching yourself. That can really detract from your enjoyment and the enjoyment of your partner. Whatever you can do that can get you in touch with the experience is helpful. Of the clients I’ve heard from who have used it for sexual enhancement, I’ve heard very few negative comments.”

But pot-smokers who devoutly swear by stoned sex go even further. “It’s the orgasm,” claims Claire, a 22-year-old Denver college student. “The first time I got high, I couldn’t believe it. It was a crashing sensation, like glass breaking in my brain. And what everybody calls the afterglow was like my own private show. I just lay there watching my mind spin random thoughts out as if they weren’t even mine. I was completely unhooked from normal thought patterns. It was fabulous.”

For others it’s the details, the textures, the nuances of sensation they never were quite aware of when they were straight. “Oral sex is amazing when you’re high,” says Gary, a 30-year-old construction worker. “When I was younger, before I really got into pot, I wasn’t that crazy about going down on a woman. I didn’t mind receiving, but, I don’t know, it just wasn’t my thing. But then I was with this great girl and we were hitting it off. She had pot, I took a few puffs, one thing led to another. I don’t know. Things sure changed. Now I kind of feel equal on both ends of the bargain.”

Dr. Gardos says that’s not surprising. “One of the funny, ironic things about people who are so concerned with pleasing their partner—what their partners want—is that it’s actually not the best approach to pleasing your partner. Most people say what turns them on the most, what they really enjoy the most, is knowing that their partner is having a good time and that they’re into it. People who are excessively focused on doing everything for their partner seem to be the people whose partners say sex isn’t that fun.”

It’s hard to generalize about any human behavior, especially when it comes to sex, but one of marijuana’s more surprising attributes is its ability to quell premature ejaculation in men. It’s not fully understood why, but marijuana seems to allow the male to change pace and become more attuned to sensation and the rhythms of his body. Premature ejaculation is an anxiety response. In short, marijuana seems to reduce the anxiety.

For others, marijuana is more. It enables sex. The late, great marijuana-rights attorney Ralph Seely, who battled cancer until his death earlier this year, spoke openly about pot and its medicinal properties for sex. “I can have sex without pain after taking just a couple of puffs of pot in my pipe. This is dangerous?”

It comes down to the question of sexual satisfaction. Are we all not entitled—male, female, young, old, healthy, physically disadvantaged or chronically ill? Isn’t it a reasonable expectation? And if we can bolster our confidence a bit with a bong hit, are we truly hurting anyone?

Probably not, but it is good to remember that marijuana can induce what we can politely call “moments of the extreme”—a little psychic mayhem. A couple who spent their honeymoon in Negril, Jamaica bought a space cake on the beach and split half of it. They retired to their room for some hot afternoon sex. The huge dose of ganja in the cake went to work. The bride recalls, “It was scary, just scary. I don’t know, it was so wild and he didn’t look like himself anymore.” The new husband agreed.

“Man, I don’t know what was going on, but it was out there. Just incredible, out of this world. I couldn’t see straight. Everything was swirling.”

They both collapsed for 15 hours following their mystical romp with the ganja spirits. The next day they looked at each other somewhat shyly, but in wonder. “We both knew that we had gone through this sex trip together and I think that brought us closer together,” she says. “But I would never eat space cake again. Ever!”

Space cake aside, pot does not produce whacked-out sex, mind-blowing sex with normal doses.

Of course, it can. But it’s more a matter of what you bring to the bedroom.

Dr. Grinspoon calls the effect of marijuana on the sexual experience “subtle.” Dr. Gardos cites “mindset, setting, what you’re expecting out of it and how you use it” as being key in creating better sex with cannabis. He continues: “Most people just need to relax and realize they’re normal. It’s the underpinning of eighty percent of my questions. People worry about what they’re doing. They believe that what they’re enjoying may not be normal. It’s a prevailing theme.”

But back to Annie Hall. What about those sex partners who think that stoned sex isn’t “normal,” those who prefer that both parties be straight when engaged in a naked romp?

“Generally, the odds aren’t good that the couple will stay together,” says a New York-based couples therapist. “Smoking pot is representative of a certain lifestyle, a way of dealing with life. Everyone chooses their release. But people who have issues with pot-smoking, whether it involves sex or not, seem to hold their beliefs very strongly. Maybe they know someone who has a problem with drugs, maybe someone in their family. Then there are the legal risks. These are legitimate concerns. To abstain from smoking marijuana to honor someone else’s feelings is a sacrifice. It’s up to the individual to make such a gesture a success.”

High Times Magazine, December 2001

Read the full issue here.

The post From the Archives: Sex and the Stoner (2001) appeared first on High Times.

Why Weed makes food and sex better

Everything is better when you’re high! But have you ever stopped to wonder why? I mean, aside from the obvious answer of, well you’re phucking high, so everything’s great? Food is better with weed, sex is better with weed and life, in general, is just better with weed. This isn’t just a stoner concept either. […]

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Opened Mind, Heightened Libido – A Guide to Sex and Psychedelics

Very few subjects spark as much controversy as sex and drugs. Especially taboo is the idea utilizing either in ways that are viewed as socially non-conventional. The connection between sexuality and psychedelics is very prevalent throughout both ancient and modern history, both having been used to foster connections and boost spiritual experiences. So, at what point did they both become so heavily regulated and harshly stigmatized, and how can sex and psychedelics be harnessed to improve mental health and overall wellness and quality of life?

If something feels good and makes you happy, it’s probably illegal or socially vilified, right? That’s usually the case, and in our disconnected world, that seems especially true of anything that is naturally-derived and generally safe for your health – like cannabis, psychedelics, and sex, for example. Although the latter isn’t actually ‘illegal’ like pot and mushrooms, many aspects of sex and relationships are subjected to constant stigma and judgement, to the point that people are kind-of policing and regulating themselves on these matters, as to not fall out of the realm of what’s considered traditional.

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But what’s traditional is not always right for everyone, and people are starting to explore the idea that there is more to life than what we have always been taught. This seeking of truth and cosmic awakening is the backbone of the psychedelic movement, but lesser discussed is the role that sexual energy plays in opening the mind and connecting to the divine. Sex and psychedelics have been used together to reach new spiritual (and orgasmic) heights for centuries, from the free-love sexual revolution of the 1960s and 70s to all the way back to the ancient shamanic sex rituals of Nazca. Both have also been overtly condemned over the years, but have we as a society, just been looking at things the wrong way this whole time?

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A Little About Psychedelics

Psychedelic drugs are a subset of hallucinogens. They contain psychoactive compounds that are capable of altering a person’s mood, perception, and cognition; sometimes permanently and often for the better. The active compounds are usually found in nature, like psilocybin from mushrooms or mescaline from peyote, but they can also be manmade, like LSD.

Psychedelics are known for causing ‘trips’, which is what the high is referred to. When a person is tripping, they may have altered perceptions of the world around them. This can include everything from auditory and visual hallucinations, to heightened sense of touch, and even greater feelings of connection, understanding, and introspection.

The trips that people most commonly associate with these types of the drugs are the ones in which a state of hallucinogenic delirium is reached, but that is not always the case. Many times, tripping is more of an experience than an actual “trip”, and something can be learned and achieved psychologically with every small dose. Trips don’t always have to be those completely mind-bending, no-idea-what-planet-you’re-on kind of trips; they can be mild and simply make you feel relaxed, happy, and open in new and exciting ways.

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The word itself, ‘psychedelics’, was first used in 1957 to recognize substances that were said to open the mind, however, the more accurate term for them is ‘entheogens’. This term was adopted, not necessarily for the sake of being scientific, but rather to allow the sector to operate without the stigma attached to the word ‘psychedelics’ from past smear campaigns and restrictive policies. The term entheogen comes from Greek, and it translates to ‘building the God within’.

Different psychedelics produce different trips. For example, with DMT you can expect a short high lasting less than 1 hour, whereas LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline trips can last up to ten hours. Some hallucinogens are more potent than others, like acid versus mushrooms. The active compounds are different in each drug so there is a lot of variation to the effects that can be felt.  

Some people experience bad trips in which negative, and sometimes scary, hallucinations may occur. Additional side effects can include rapid heartbeat, sweating, nausea, disorientation, and fatigue. While some people may just tolerate psychedelics poorly, in most cases, the majority of these symptoms can be controlled through proper dosing. This is why most modern-day, therapeutic users of psychedelics typically consume the drugs in micro-doses.

From a sociological perspective, psychedelics still pull in very mixed reactions. On one hand, they’re still federally prohibited and there’s much less support for legalization, as opposed to cannabis reform efforts; on the other hand, there is a growing body of research suggesting that psychedelics can be good for treating numerous different mental health conditions and a handful of regions around the world are loosening restrictions on these compounds. According to a survey conducted by USA RX, 39 percent of American adults believe in the legalization of certain psychedelics for any use and a further 37 percent would support legalization specifically for medical use (76 percent total in support).

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Sex and Social Stigma

We are sexual beings. As much as we like to repress that, it’s a fact. Nearly universally, what is considered sexually “normative” behavior has been limited to heterosexual relationships between traditional couples. Typically, the system was designed to privilege those who encompass these roles and disadvantage those who fall out of line – for example, those engaging in homosexuality, prostitution, sex outside of marriage and/or with multiple partners, open relationships, and so on. (Herek, 2016, p. 397). Frontiers | The Experience of Sexual Stigma and the Increased Risk of Attempted Suicide in Young Brazilian People from Low Socioeconomic Group | Psychology (frontiersin.org)

Women are especially prone to experiencing sexual stigma, and most aspects of society seem intent on teaching us to be ashamed of or objectify ourselves, rather than rejoice in our sexuality. Naomi Katz author of Beautiful: Being an Empowered Young Woman and the founder of Beautiful Project, a movement dedicated to building self-confidence among adolescent girls and young women, puts it very well.

“The stigma surrounding female sexuality is pervasive and affects girls and women of all ages. Even in our most intimate relationships, we often don’t know how to express ourselves. We often find ourselves reacting to being sexualized, rather than expressing our own desires.”

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Stigmatization of sexual pervasiveness exists in nearly every facet of society, and normally it’s looked at poorly rather than embraced as it should be. Although these acts have no negative bearing on society as a whole, derogatory terms are often used to describe people who engage in non-traditional sexual experiences.

If all this sounds strangely familiar, that’s because it is the same type of stigmatization and prejudice that drug users experience. Of course, there are some instances and certain types of drugs that are more problematic to society, like meth and heroin for some very obvious examples, but even naturally-occurring and mildly-intoxicating drugs like cannabis have been looked down on for decades.

Shifting Tides, Shattering Shame

Some might say that we’re currently on the cusp of a revolution, and rightfully so. Although we still have some strides to make, public opinion on both sex and drug use has progressed dramatically over the last few years. For the most part, we no longer have to hide in the closet with our pot and fetishes, and people are freer to experiment with natural compounds, love who they want to love, and enjoy life on their own terms.

I personally have a phrase that I got from an old friend: “If you like it, I love it”, and that seems to be the general attitude these days, so long as safety and some level of personal responsibility is taken into consideration.

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Statistically, support for cannabis and psychedelic drug reform, as well as embracing of more sexually-open concepts, are both gaining traction. For example, an overwhelming 91 percent of American adults believe cannabis should be legal in the US – 60 percent say legal across the board while and additional 31 percent believe it should only be legal for medical reasons. Given these numbers, it’s seriously a travesty that weed is still prohibited, but that’s beside the point today. Psychedelics are seeing a rise in popularity as well, with approximately 39 percent of respondents stating that certain psychedelics should be permitted for any use, while another 37 percent believe medical psychedelics should be approved. To reiterate, that’s 91 percent for cannabis, and 76 percent for psychedelics – yet both are STILL illegal.  

Swinging the pendulum back to sex stats, a large-scale survey found that 1 in 5 Americans have been involved in at least one consensual, open relationship in the past and around 9% of American adults engage in some sort of open relationship regularly. Over the last decade we have also seen a sharp rise in the number of adults who identify as LGBTQ – not necessarily because more people are becoming LGBTQ, but because a growing number of people are feeling increasingly comfortable with expressing their true sexuality. It’s a beautiful thing.

Sexual Energy, Psychedelics, and Mental Health

Although it’s not frequently discussed, sex is considered one of the most desired and coveted experiences in modern-day culture. The reasons go far beyond just, “because it feels good”. It’s because many humans seek a deeper and more meaningful connection with the divine; and sex, when done correctly, is a transcending, transformational experience like no other.

Sex is a core function of life on earth, but even more so, it plays a major role in both physical and mental health. In my own experience, creative, spiritual, and sexual energy all go hand in hand. If you’re in a powerful creative or spiritual flow, there is likely a sexual aspect to it as well. As the saying goes, “If you are expressed creatively, you are going to be expressed sexually. If you are in the flow of expressive sex, then you know that God must have a hand in it. And creativity is about spiritual communion.”

And the same applies to psychedelics. Initial high aside, psychedelic use can be an incredibly mind-opening experience. “People often come out of a psychedelic experience and say it was one of those most remarkable things they’ve ever experienced—that the experience led to creative insights and improvements in self-identity and mood,” says Matthew Johnson, a researcher at the Center for Psychedelics and Consciousness Research. “When people consistently say things like that, you start to ask yourself what the heck is going on—you want to understand why.”

Sex and psychedelics boost dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain, respectively. Release of these hormones are said to help relieve depression and anxiety and improve your overall state of mental wellbeing. Low levels of serotonin can lead to numerous different psychological health disorders as well as lack of sleep, which is believed to be the root cause in dozens of both immediate and long-term health conditions. Low levels of dopamine can cause depression as well, and interestingly, is also a precursor to Parkinson’s disease.

A Brief History: Sex and Psychedelics

It’s undeniably difficult to say exactly what went on with intimate human experiences thousands of years ago. However, ancient texts and artwork serve as evidence that even back then, sex and psychedelics were much more than just for procreating and getting intoxicating. Both were culturally significant, and sometimes, a means to a spiritual end.

Nazca Shamanic Sex Rituals

Little is known about the specifics of these rituals, but ancient art, pottery, and petroglyphs depict the use of psychedelics and sex during shamanic rituals as very commonplace. Overall, the use of psychedelic drugs in ancient Peruvian society has been well documented and much of their ancient texts and drawings are very sexualized in nature.

Tantra

Psychedelics have long been intertwined with the ancient practice of tantra. In Sanskrit, the word tantra means woven together. The practice of tantra is basically a form meditation or yoga that harnesses sexual energy as a way to “weave” together the physical with the spiritual.

According to philosophers like Aleister Crowley and Robert Anton Wilson — “the psychopharmacological techniques for activating higher states of sexual consciousness remain unknown by most people, and they are often kept secret from early initiates of Tantra. Techniques for enhancing sexual rituals with sacred plants are rarely mentioned in popular books on Tantra or in Tantra workshops.”

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1960s Summer of Love

Broadly, the summer of love refers to the summer of 1967 when up to 100,000 people – mostly between the ages of 15 and 30 – gathered in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco to revel in new music, hallucinogenic drugs, anti-war protests, and “free-love”. Although the movement dominated the West Coast, it managed to spread across the entire nation.

Those participating were known as Hippies, and many were drawn together by their shared views on various different social issues such as collective suspicions of government deception, the rejecting of consumerist values, and a general opposition to the Vietnam War. A large number of hippies were focused on activism and political issues, while others were more interested in art and/or spiritual and meditative practices, many of which included the use of sex and psychedelics.

Opened Mind, Heightened Libido

We’ve covered all the different parallels between sexuality and psychedelics, now let’s talk a little bit more about combining the two. Very few human experiences are as transformative as having sex and consuming psychedelic compounds. When used safely and correctly, both can propel you to otherworldly magnitudes of physical and emotional healing; and yes, electrifying, earth-shattering orgasms as an added bonus.  

So, what entheogenic drugs actually work in the bedroom? Although many have been used throughout history, I’d say the best modern-day psychedelics to pair with sex would be cannabis, mushrooms, and MDMA. Exact methods and physiological function of these drugs varies, but they all have an impact on the two main components of a sexual experience: sense of touch and feelings of connectivity.

We can naturally expect that studies in this field are dismal, but here are a few quotes from the small tokens of research that we do have. “Desire and satisfaction were moderately to profoundly increased by MDMA in more than 90% of subjects. Orgasm was delayed but perceived as more intense,” (European Psychiatry: 2001 Mar,16(2):127-30).

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“Marijuana use is independently associated with increased sexual frequency and does not appear to impair sexual function… Daily users actually reported having 20% more sex than their counterparts who have never used cannabis before,” (Journal of Sexual Medicine: Volume 14, Issue 11, P1342-1347).

Now when it comes to dosing, this can get include a bit of trial and error sometimes. Obviously, you don’t want to be tripping balls if you expect to have a decent sexual experience. Some people choose to micro-dose which could certainly help lower inhibitions without making you feel completely inebriated. Other’s might choose to get a good body high, maybe a couple grams to one-eighth of shrooms for example, depending on your size and tolerance. It really is all contingent upon the individual user and desired experience, so giving highly-specific dosing advice is close to impossible.

Final Thoughts on Sex and Psychedelics

In the so-eloquent words of Marlene Dobkin de Rios, Ph.D., was a medical anthropologist, associate clinical professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the University of California, Irvine, and professor emerita of anthropology at California State University, Fullerton:

“Sexuality anywhere is a polyvalent function, whose primary and supreme valency is the cosmological function. To translate a psychic situation into sexual terms is by no means to belittle it. for except in the modern world, sexuality has everywhere and always been a hierophany and the sexual act an integral action. Therefore, a means to knowledge…”

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