The Latest on the Sexual Effects of Marijuana

July 17, 2020

Most people say cannabis enhances lovemaking and the pleasure of orgasm.

As of 2020, the large majority of Americans live in states where marijuana—now increasingly called cannabis—can be used legally. It’s completely legal in 11 states and the District of Columbia, and legal for medical use in another 28. It remains totally illegal in only 11 states. It’s also quite popular, estimated to be one of the nation’s most valuable agricultural crops.

But few studies have investigated the widely used drug’s sexual impact. Two recent reports add to this small literature—and confirm most earlier work showing that around two-thirds of lovers say it enhances sex.

Study #1

University of British Columbia researchers surveyed 216 marijuana users recruited online who said they had used it during lovemaking.

74 percent said it increased their sensitivity to erotic touch.

74 percent said cannabis improved their sexual satisfaction.

70 percent said it helped them relax and feel more present during sex.

66 percent said marijuana boosted the pleasure of their orgasms.

59 percent said it increased their sexual desire.

Among those who admitted problems working up to orgasm, half said cannabis helped them climax.

41 percent said it had mixed impact, improving some aspects of sex but detracting from others.

39 percent called marijuana always sex enhancing.

Only 5 percent said it always spoiled sex.

Study #2

St. Louis University investigators asked 373 women visiting gynecologists for routine care if they used cannabis prior to sex. One-third (127) said they did. They were asked to complete an anonymous survey. Compared with those who abstained from marijuana or used it infrequently, those who regularly used the drug shortly before sex were twice as likely to report deeply satisfying orgasms.

Both of these studies used what researchers call “convenience samples.” The subjects were people who happened to be available. They visited gynecologists or responded to online recruitment efforts, and opted to participate. Results based on convenience samples cannot be called definitive, but they are well within the bounds of social science research. The psychology journals would be mighty thin without studies based on one particular convenience sample—college undergraduates.

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