In one of the more memorable episodes of High Maintenance — HBO’s slice-of-life series on the colorful panoply of New York City weed smokers, as focalized through the bike-merchant dealer they all share in common — a neurotic middle-aged couple decide to turn to cannabis to get them out of rut.
“What about something … for the bedroom?” the husband asks said dealer. “It’s not for me, but for her. She needs a little something to … relax. You know, not just relax and get sleepy … but relax and wake it up.”
Marijuana’s presumptive status as an aphrodisiac is by no means a new discovery; lustful tales of having sex while high have followed marijuana since pharaonic times. But now, as we see widespread decriminalization and full-blown legalization of marijuana across the country, a weed-fueled sex renaissance is perhaps underway, for seasoned partakers and curious novices like the couple in High Maintenance alike.
So, how exactly does this controversial and decidedly very cool drug act as an aphrodisiac, and where can interested parties go to get said sexy strains? We found out.
“One of the biggest barriers to enjoying an intimate moment with either a partner or even yourself is truly being present in that moment.” says Michelle Mendoza, cannabis connoisseur and Head Buyer at Los Angeles’ Sweet Flower. “We are talking no distractions, a complete stripping down of the senses and total relaxation of the mind, body and spirit. Cannabis has the ability to induce deep relaxation of the mind and body while also stimulating those creative thoughts and energies that lead to a heightened sense of pleasure for many.”
According to Mendoza, the neurological and biological benefits of marijuana are primarily governed by the substance’s terpene and cannabinoid content.
“Terpenes (the perfumey bouquet of smells that often accompanies a strain, with names like Limonene and Myrcene) are responsible for things like those energetic and uplifting feelings or that deep body buzz just after ingestion, while cannabinoids (the chemical compounds found in THC, CBD, etc.) activate and communicate with specific receptors within the Endocannabinoid System,” she tells InsideHook. “Together, they produce the entourage effect that equals the sum of its parts and your very individualized experience.”
Cannabis is also a vasodilator, meaning it increases blood flow and can make the already-sensitive parts of our bodies even more sensitive. A 2019 study examining the relationship between marijuana and sex found that 34 percent of the 373 women surveyed who used marijuana before a sexual encounter reported an increase in “sex drive, improvement in orgasm, decrease in pain, but no change in lubrication.” In 2017, yet another study analyzing the relationship between weed and sex procured similar results, finding “a positive association between marijuana use and sexual frequency in men and women across all demographic groups.”
Like any drug — Schedule 1 or otherwise — personal preference plays a major role in any user’s experience. Of the strains widely purported to boost arousal and feelings of sexual desire are the Sativa-dominant hybrid, Blue Dream, Kryptonite (a 50-50 Hybrid), the Sativa-heavy Amnesia Haze, and a few Indica-dominant leaning hybrids like Wedding Cake and Bubblegum Kush. What most of these strains have in common is the presence of a few specific terpenes: Myrcene (known for its powerful sedative effects), Beta-Caryophyllene (a reliever of pain and anxiety) and the mood-elevator/stress-reliever, Limonene.
“From micro-dosed beverages to your classic joint, the great thing about cannabis today is that there are so many new and fun ways to get you in the zone.” continues Mendoza. “If you don’t have a lot of time or patience and are looking for a rapid onset for the desired effect, vaping or smoking a joint would be ideal. If you’re looking for a slow simmer, edibles are ideal as they can take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half for the beginning of their onset.” Of course, with Mendoza’s suggestion of edibles comes the obligatory reminder to ensure you and your partner know the exact dosage and stay patient to avoid “freaking out.”
In the past, finding the strain that worked for you was a crapshoot; a person getting anything but a bag of mids could count themselves lucky. But at the height of our current weed-sex renaissance, we now have weed lube, Love Drops and an endless array of information to help horned-up reefer addicts deduce which strains and products will work for them. Thanks to advances in marijuana legalization in recent years, knowing the exact dosage and organic makeup of your joint or edible is a luxury we can afford. We now have the freedom to seek out and enjoy weed in virtually any flavor or form, and finding the terpene-rich strains that enhance feeling and desire is as easy as ordering pizza.
That said, while this country has made significant progress on the weed front in recent years, there’s obviously still a lot of work to do to shatter persistent stigmas surrounding sex, weed and everything in between. In the meantime, however, those in more weed-friendly parts of the U.S. should feel empowered to take advantage of the myriad resources available for consumption. Things aren’t perfect, but we’ve come a long, long way since the days of D.A.R.E.