It’s February in the good old US of A and you know what that means – Valentine’s Day! All things sweet, pink, and fluffy are packed onto store shelves waiting to come home with you for a special someone. Or, let’s be honest, for ourselves because we are adults who can buy candy and stuffed animals all on our own if we want to. With all of the love and frankly, sex, that’s invaded our February, I wanted to explore some of the ways cannabis has had an impact on relationships, whether those relationships are with yourself or with a partner. Sex, sexuality, and human connection are things that, like cannabis use, we all experience differently – so this month I reached out to my friends Noodle, Anna Cherry and Ghoulian Gore, who are not only cannabis enthusiasts but experienced online sex workers. In addition to being admirably creative and talented, they are human beings with complex relationships and life experiences that have been enhanced or complicated by cannabis use, and like all aspects of cannabis education, it’s important to explore the variability of these experiences.
We’re friends, right? This is a job, sure, but I go into these pieces intending to present information to you similarly to how I would enthusiastically gush to a friend about anything else I love. Well right now, we’re gossip buddies and we’re starting with a couple of anecdotes about the people I dated who didn’t use cannabis *dun dun dun*! There were only two of them, back to back, and they couldn’t have been more different.
The first – let’s call him T – was my first serious boyfriend. We met at a music festival when we were in high school and spent almost four really fun years together, but he wasn’t a cannabis user and I honestly can’t recall if he’d even tried it before we met. I had already been smoking for a year or two almost purely recreationally, and my “no pressure” attitude towards being around nonsmokers was developing. Smoking, which was all I knew how to do at the time, made T extremely paranoid and uncomfortable, and asking or attempting to coerce him into smoking with me wasn’t something I was going to do. It didn’t affect me or our relationship that T wasn’t a cannabis user and I had no reason to try and change his mind. He often went out of his way to make sure I had safe and comfortable places to smoke and every once in a while, he would decide to try a little again. He usually didn’t like it.
You might be wondering why I would bring up T at all if cannabis had such little impact on our relationship – but that’s kind of the whole point. Throughout our entire relationship, I was a cannabis user and T wasn’t, but that didn’t change how we felt or treated each other and I’d go so far as to say that he went above and beyond to accommodate my cannabis use because he could see the positive effects it had on me and my pain levels. But to be fair, I’m the one with the positive memories of all of this and he might have a different recollection entirely. We were young and, likely, I wasn’t always wonderful. For what it’s worth though, he was and still is a quality dude that, last I heard, was a stoner with a dispensary job! Surprise surprise! So if you’re seeing this and you’ve figured out who you are, I’m grateful that you treated me in a way that made it difficult to settle for less than I deserved. Well, if not right away at least eventually.
The partner I had after that – we can call him B – was not a fan of my cannabis use in any form and he made it well known. He made it so well known that once upon a time he found a few grams in a cigarette pack in my car and decided to throw it out the window of my moving vehicle. B treated me like a “drug addict” – a term I don’t like to use but he meant it with all of the negative weight that it carries – at a time in my life when I was probably smoking the least. There were a ton of other issues in our relationship and I ended up sneaking around and smoking whenever, wherever and with whoever I could. Driving home pre-legalization? Sure. With strangers that I met out? Of course. In the parking garage of my international non-profit job? Why wouldn’t I? I was simultaneously scared and reckless and I can’t imagine this had a positive impact on our relationship.
This last little detail is still alleged but to this day I’m convinced that – despite all of his ragings against me and vehement condemnation of my cannabis use – B was smoking my stash! No, really! At a certain point in our relationship, probably after I moved us out of his parent’s house and into an apartment of our own, he acquiesced and I was allowed to smoke in the apartment that I was paying for. I would usually smoke at night before bed and in the mornings before work using the bong I kept under the bathroom sink. Eventually, I realized that regardless of what state I left the bowl in the night before it was cashed when I woke up. I don’t remember ever confronting him about it but I can almost guarantee based on what our relationship was like then that he would have denied it and that little nug of uncertainty has been hanging out with me for years. It would be nice to know what that was all about.
There’s a pretty stark contrast in the way that the simple fact that I am a person who smokes cannabis affected those two relationships. It’s been a decade since then, but it would surprise me if I handled my cannabis use much differently than I do now. It’s never controlled my life or my finances, but it’s likely there were times that it was the source of my stress or worry. In these instances, and with 20/20 hindsight, it’s easy to say I might have handled those situations with a little more thoughtfulness. While cannabis remains a part of my life, I like to think that these two instances have taught me how important compromise and communication are in all aspects of a relationship.
If there’s anything I like talking about more than cannabis, it’s sex. I guess there’s just something in me that enjoys making most people uncomfortable in what might be considered “civil conversation”. But let’s face it, sex can be pretty interesting and sexuality and sexual expression play important roles in some people’s lives. The last time we talked about sex and cannabis – find that article on here on cannabiscactus.com – we covered the basics of how cannabis affects the endocannabinoid system and how that in turn can affect sexual response, drive and sensation. Instead of more science, I thought it would be fun to talk to my professionally sexy friends about their experiences with cannabis, sex and relationships, and how it isn’t always mind blowing orgasms and hours of amazing sex.
Pain management is one of the most well known medical uses of cannabis and so it was no surprise when this was at the top of the list when talking to my friends about sex and cannabis. There’s a time and a place for pain in the bedroom; consenting adults are gonna consent to adult things and there are other magazines for that. This magazine is for telling you that pain you don’t want has no place messing up your sex life, and cannabis might have something that can help with that.
Noodle and Ghoulian Gore are super talented online sex workers and streamers who also live with chronic pain and use cannabis to help mannage it. Living with chronic pain affects so many areas of your life, but it’s not often that we talk about how that pain can impact your sexuality. “I’ve always had an issue with libido” Noodle told me, “sometimes it’s in absolute overdrive, sometimes it’s nonexistent and a lot of that is due to the pain from a few chronic ailments.” For Ghoulian, cannabis helps manage their chronic leg and hip pain and “using things like wax during a flare up helps me be able to get out of bed.” If you’re in too much pain to move, it’s not likely that you’re feeling up for a bunch fun sexual activity. “[Cannabis] has given me some of my life back,” Ghoulian said, “and for that I’m grateful.”
Coworkers recommended cannabis to Noodle as a form of pain management and “after a year or so just smoking I started exploring other options and to my pleasant surprise I learned about the world of topicals, including cannabis lubes!”
We stoners love our infused products and lubricants, or intimacy oils as they are sometimes called, are just another wonderful addition. Genitals are packed full of nerves and those nerves are full of cannabinoid receptors, so slathering them down with a cannabis infused lube is going to have some benefits. Increased blood flow can help heighten sensation and anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce pain in the area and ease tension, though it’s also important to note that many cannabis-infused lubes are not condom or latex safe.
Noodle told me that with a combination of smoking and using a cannabis infused lube they had “really good sex for the first time in my life. It was magical”. This combination has continued to help ease Noodle’s pain enough to more fully enjoy all of the sensations associated with sex. “Before that, sex would sometimes be so painful it would make me cry.”
Anna Cherry is another very talented online sex worker, performer, and producer who admits that cannabis in her relationship can sometimes make things more difficult for her and her partner. “It is very nice when it’s rare,” she said, “like a couple of days every couple of weeks. We both get stoned – by which, I mean he joins me in getting high – and have luxurious sex where every single sensation feels incredibly satisfying.”
Cherry says that things change when she switches from less frequent use to smoking strong concentrates every day for weeks at a time. “I get irritable, sick with psychological pain, and withdraw into myself – which totally messes with our love language, developed over fifteen years together – one of complete openness and cuddly closeness 24/7.” During these times Cherry says it becomes impossible to control her emotions and often creates distance between her and her partner. “It is like being dropped into an irrational hole with all my worst feelings screaming at me, while also being very insistent on these obviously inaccurate sensations as true representations of reality. All of them are usually self-esteem and human-relation related.” This may be due to the interaction between cannabis and the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin has both physical and psychological effects on the body including social interaction and emotional regulation, but this is a much more complicated topic that we’ll cover [with Cherry] more in-depth in a later issue.
It’s Still Complicated
Just like anything else involving cannabis, there really is no cut and dry answer. Experiences with cannabis are as variable as the people who use it and it’s important to be mindful of the ways it may be impacting different parts of our lives, regardless of whether those impacts are negative or positive.
Cannabis can be introduced into your sex life in a number of beneficial ways, like making sex more accessible for those of us who live with chronic pain or more enjoyable if you struggle with arousal or libido. But like a lot of things surrounding cannabis research, we’re still learning and discovering new things about all of the possible effects and interactions cannabis has with different internal systems. As much as I am biased in favor of cannabis use and its myriad of benefits, I think it’s just as important to acknowledge and examine when it may be adversely affecting us. That way we can learn, adjust accordingly, and recognize that cannabis, when used medicinally, is a lot like any other medication.
In addition to their personal websites, you can catch Anna Cherry, Noodle and Ghoulian Gore starring together in Tabletopless, where RPG meets adult entertainment, streaming every Wednesday at 4pm pacific on https://tabletopless.org/
Kelly Mahoney worked at a medical cannabis Co-op with her mother, Laura Mastropietro, dealing mainly with helping new patients acquire their medical cards and helping them find the best strains and methods. Diagnosed at a young age with spinal muscular atrophy, she was also a medical cannabis patient and still advocates for the incredible benefits, and downright fun, of cannabis. She now lives in a prohibition state as a cat mom and gamer wife.