What You Need to Know About Cannabis and ConsentBy Maria Del Russo
For many people, the secret to unlocking a pleasure-filled sex life is to introduce cannabis into your bedroom. Whether it’s by consuming it orally or applying it topically in the form of lube, adding cannabis—either in CBD form or old-fashioned weed with THC—to your foreplay routine can majorly heighten pleasurable sensations and help you to relax. There is also evidence that cannabinoids can be used to treat chronic pain, which is useful for those living with ailments like vaginismus and vulvodynia that make sex painful.
All of this is amazing. Better sex is always a good thing! But while CBD won't get you high, THC definitely will, so it’s important to remember that cannabis can be a mind-altering substance—and to ensure that you and your partner are discussing boundaries and consent ahead of your sexy times. So I chatted with Ashley Manta, a sex educator and coach who coined the phrase “cannasexual” to describe the combination of sex and cannabis. She ran me through everything we all need to know when it comes to cannabis and consent.
Why it’s so important
Whether you’ve used cannabis in the past in a non-sexual way, or are experimenting with THC lubes for the first time, it is paramount that you have a conversation with your partner before the first time you bring it into your bedroom. “Cannabis can affect different people in different ways,” says Manta. “It’s so important to let your partner know if you’re consuming, so that they can be as informed as possible before you have sex.”
Remember that consent factors into people’s expectations around sex, and a lack of clarity can mean that a person hasn’t fully opted-in to the experience. “If your partner doesn’t know you’re consuming, and it’s affecting the way you show up, they didn’t opt into that,” Manta says. “They haven’t consented to that because they weren’t informed.”
Say you’re using a THC lube, and your partner goes down on you. They could fail a drug test if they accidentally ingest some of the lube.
But before you even sit down with your partner, it’s important to know how cannabis affects you. For this reason, Manta says that the first time you use cannabis should not be in a sexual situation. “You want to do your homework before,” she says. “It’s a good idea to know how certain strains or methods of consumption affect you, so that you can pass that information on to your partner.” And remember: The amount of cannabis it takes to feel a certain sensation is objective, so what is right for you may not be right for someone else.
Manta also stresses that, since cannabis isn’t legal everywhere, your partner needs to be informed about your usage whether you ingest it or apply it topically. “Say you’re using a THC lube, and your partner goes down on you,” Manta says. “They could fail a drug test if they accidentally ingest some of the lube.”
Before your clothes come off, and before you consume, you and your partner should sit down and chat. Be as detailed as possible.
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How to have the conversation
The first thing to remember is that consent isn’t just a one-and-done situation. And when it comes to consent and cannabis, that conversation should be happening before, during, and after sex.
Before your clothes come off, and before you consume, you and your partner should sit down and chat. “Be as detailed as possible,” Manta says. “Let them know how much you’re consuming, what the method of consumption is, and how it usually makes you feel. Also give them a heads up about what to look out for as an indicator that you’re not having a good time.” If you over consume, you may not be able to verbally tell your partner. So let them know to look out for the physical signs of distress you may have.
“If you’re having sex, and your partner seems off, make sure to stop and check in,” Manta says. You might also want to tell your partner how to take care of you if you start to feel out of it — whether that’s grabbing a blanket and some water or just holding one another until they calm down. Since there is so much trust involved in using cannabis when having sex, Manta cautions against using this method with someone you don’t really trust yet. “If you don’t trust them to respond well to your negative responses, then you probably shouldn’t consume with them,” she says.
If you over consume, you may not be able to verbally tell your partner. So let them know to look out for the physical signs of distress you may have.
If you don’t trust them to respond well to your negative responses, then you probably shouldn’t consume with them.
Checking in afterwards
After you’ve had sex, it’s a good idea to debrief, too. “It really helps put into words if something is or isn’t working out well,” she says. And if things aren’t feeling great, make sure you’re approaching that conversation with curiosity — not defensiveness. “I tell my clients not to focus on the ‘why,’” she says. “Instead, ask what and how. What wasn’t working? How can I make you feel more comfortable next time?”
Remember: Getting proper consent before mixing sex and cannabis (or any substance) protects both you and your partner — whether you’re both consuming or not. That way, you can reap all of the benefits of introducing cannabis into your bedroom. “You want to set you and your partner up for success as much as possible,” Manta says. And in this case, success could mean a much more heightened sexual experience.