It’s no secret that many people reach for their favorite cannabis product before an anticipated sexual experience. But what are the top reasons people enjoy cannabis before sex? And is cannabis something that you might want to consider as a way to spice up your own romantic adventures?

Let’s dive into what people and science are saying about cannabis use before sex so you can better understand what the auspicious flower may offer a curious lover.

Sex, cannabinoids, and the endocannabinoid system

The body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a labyrinth of neurons and receptors that has evolved over millions of years. Its main role is to maintain homeostasis in the body. Researchers only discovered this system in the late twentieth century as they were exploring the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). They were surprised to discover that the system had remarkably similar structures to compounds of the cannabis plant. These similarities make the relationship between cannabis and the endocannabinoid system so synergistic [1].

Endocannabinoids (the body’s own class of endogenous chemicals) interact with endocannabinoid receptors in the ECS. These interactions affect bodily sensations and functions. Learning, temperature, memory, emotional processing, sleep, pain control, and even sexual responses, are all part of what the endocannabinoid system regulates.

Because of the similarities between endocannabinoids and cannabinoids, which are the active chemicals in hemp and marijuana, cannabis engages with the endocannabinoid system receptors and affects outcomes. For example, when someone consumes THC, the cannabinoid receptor expression can be psychoactive and might give the user a euphoric feeling, or feelings of being “high.” In contrast, the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) will engage with the cannabinoid receptors and initiate a different functional expression, such as pain-sensation or comfort. However, more research is underway, and necessary to determine the exact effects of CBD.

Learn more in the Guide to CBD.

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CB1 and CB2 receptors: what do they do?

There are two kinds of cannabinoid receptors. Receptors in areas of the brain and central nervous system are called CB1 receptors, and they modulate the activity of many of our neurotransmitters. They provide feedback to other systems, turning up or down things that might need adjustments, like pleasure or alertness [2].

On the other hand, CB2 receptors exist throughout our immune tissues. These are crucial to maintaining a healthy immune system. The CB2 receptors can influence things like inflammation and other immune-related functions. Both cannabinoids (from plants) and endocannabinoids (from our bodies) have been shown to interact with hormones and neurotransmitters that mediate sexual behavior, yet more research is needed to understand their role fully [3]. 

Why Do People Use Cannabis Before Sex?

Are you interested in using cannabis for your own romantic adventures? Here are seven great reasons others enjoy cannabis before sex. See if any resonate with you and your partner. 

Also make sure to read Best Cannabis products for Sex for more ideas!

1. Cannabis may heighten sexual sensations

Popular culture is full of references to the cannabis-sex connection. But, it’s not all hype. Elizabeth Ardillo, PharmD, points to a study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine to illuminate cannabis’ potential to awaken the senses during sex. “Recent studies support anecdotal evidence that cannabis may improve a woman’s libido,” she said to InStyle Magazine, adding, “Many participants in [this] study found that cannabis helped them relax, heightened their sensitivity to touch, and increased intensity of feelings, thus enhancing their sexual experience [4].”

Other doctors echo her point of view about how cannabis can enhance sexual sensation. For instance, Felice Gersh, MD, OBGYN, and author of Menopause: 50 Things You Need to Know, says of the relationship between cannabis and sex, “There are many studies showing a small amount of [cannabis is] associated with an enhanced sexual response.” Yet, she maintains there is still much research to be done in order to understand the connection more fully [4].

2. Increased arousal and pleasure

Anecdotally speaking, many people find that they experience more arousal, improved satisfaction, and increased sexual pleasure after consuming cannabis. Exactly how this happens remains a bit of a mystery, yet theories abound. For instance, sex therapist Lawrence Siegel maintains that Delta-9 THC, in particular, appears to target an area of the brain that is associated with sexual arousal, especially in females. “Our body’s natural endocannabinoid system is key in regulating things like pleasure, pain, relaxation, and homeostasis,” he said to CNN.

Likewise, Peter Barsom, founder of the company called 1906, spoke to CNN about how certain cannabinoids can reduce anxiety or change the way we experience pain, which can improve both non-sexual and sexual experiences. Speaking about the endocannabinoid system, he said, “When it is activated by the cannabinoids in cannabis, it can leave users feeling relaxed with increased pleasure…” He maintained that this experience can lead to “increased arousal” and make sex “even more enjoyable [5].”

3. More satisfying orgasms

Dr. Jordan Tishler, a physician, and president of the Association of Cannabis Specialists argues that THC can interact with the ECS in a way that quiets the mind and promotes a better sexual experience. Oftentimes, he maintains, the result is a calmer mood, one more open to connection and sensation. He told Insider Magazine that before treatment with cannabis, many of his patients cited issues like low sex drive and difficulty achieving orgasm. Most of these patients achieved better sex drive and more orgasms after taking cannabis with THC [6].

Though research in this area is scant, a new study found that queer men who used cannabis before sex noted feeling calmer and more open to their partners than when they didn’t use it. Additionally, the participants said that cannabis boosted their feelings of pleasure and enhanced the quality of their orgasms.

Regarding the experience of women using cannabis, another small 2019 study reported that the surveyed women who used cannabis before sex had more satisfying orgasms, and a stronger sex drive [6].

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4. Heightened intimacy and emotional connectivity

While it may be clear that cannabis has the potential to alleviate discomfort and anxiety for some people in relation to sexual experiences, how might it affect emotional intimacy? If we rely on anecdotal reports, cannabis clearly can help in this department. But some scientific studies are also shedding light on this issue.

According to the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, cannabis can heighten the senses, which, in turn, can amplify feelings of emotional intimacy. This can happen whether someone is having sex or simply a conversation, they maintain [7]. 

In one study about cannabis and intimacy, 183 adults who regularly used cannabis were questioned over a 30-day duration. The participants were either married couples or partners who lived together. Every day, the couples reported when they used cannabis. Then, the following day, they reported if they had an intimate experience with their partner and, if so, at what time. The researchers found that the couples who consumed marijuana had more intimate experiences within two hours of their cannabis use [8].

5. Pain relief related to sexual experiences

Can cannabis offer a variety of potential pain-relieving qualities that may help men and women who experience pain-related sexual problems? It seems that it can for some people. For one, cannabis may act as a vasodilator, which means that it can help with blood flow. Increased blood flow can alleviate pain in all parts of the body, including the genitals [9].

Additionally, both THC and CBD have been shown to offer potential anti-inflammatory benefits. Though more research is needed to confirm it, at lower doses, cannabis with THC has been shown to help with reducing anxiety, which can change the way we feel about our pain, ultimately improving our sexual function [10].

Since there are CB2 receptors in the skin, a person’s sense of touch is changed by cannabinoids. The feeling of sunlight on your face, a warm towel after a bath, or your lover’s hand on your body—all of these things might feel more pleasurable by the effects of cannabinoids like THC or CBD.

6. Less anxiety, including performance anxiety

The primary-care doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital Dr. Peter Grinspoon advised consuming a “teeny bit” of THC in a tincture to relieve anxiety around sex.

“At low doses,” he told the New York Times, “cannabis helps libido, but at high doses, it often isn’t as effective.” He maintains that if a person takes too much, some people may become paranoid or anxious. In this case, the THC could inhibit sexual pleasure and orgasm.

“At low doses,” he stressed, “cannabis helps libido, but at high doses, it often isn’t as effective [11].”

7. Fun pre-sex rituals

Last, but not least, cannabis rituals can be a fun part of foreplay or pre-sex rituals, adding to the bonding experience you can foster with your partner. For instance, CBD or THC massage oils can stimulate pleasure and desire. Smoking, if that’s your thing, can be sexy, like in old movies, and give your hands something to do while you whisper sweet nothings in your lover’s ear. Cannabinoid-infused chocolate or gummies are delicious and can add to the sensuality of the moment.

Since the explosion of cannabis products in recent years, your options for cannabis treats and topicals are practically endless when it comes to pre-sex marijuana or hemp products.

Check out Earthy Now’s CBD Daily Gummies for a delicious CBD-packed experience. They feature organic ingredients and are vegan, gluten-free, and tree nut free. The premium gummies are crafted with full-spectrum distillate and highest-quality CBD, CBG, CBN and THC. They’re loaded with minor cannabinoids CBDV, CBC, CBDA, CBGA, THCA and THCV for a full entourage effect.

The history of cannabis and sex

We’re not the only society to understand how sexually relevant cannabis can be. Throughout history, many cultures explored the power of cannabis and sex. For example, in 2nd century India, Tantrism was practiced in both Hindu and Buddhist rituals that involved cannabis consumption. Tantrism was a type of philosophy intended to lift people’s consciousness and help them find oneness with each other. Focused on complete unity with the other and the universe, Tantric sex involved mantras where the participants drank cannabis mixtures and made love [12].

In Scandinavia, the Norse deity Freya— the goddess of love and fertility—was thought to protect hemp and flax fields. The fields held erotic rituals where, on the evening before the summer solstice, unmarried girls rolled naked while throwing wreaths of hemp at the nearest tree branches. According to their mythology, the number of times the wreath fell to the ground would be the number of years the girl would stay unmarried [12].

The Inquisition provoked mass persecution of herbalists and healers in Medieval Europe. These healers used cannabis for ailments that included low libido, but in 484, Pope Innocente VIII banned hemp rituals, classifying them as heretical. Among these rituals was the “witches’ sabbath; a cannabis ritual where witches were thought to gather for sex while high on herbs, including cannabis, opium, hemlock, and belladonna [12].

Even more recently, in 19th century America, cannabis was thought to help maintain good marriages and treat a condition they referred to as “sexual torpor;” the state of low libido [13].

The Farm Bills and the legality of cannabis

Though all 50 states now allow hemp and hemp-derived products, this was not always the case. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 outlawed cannabis cultivation, limiting farmers’ ability to produce even non-psychoactive hemp. Richard Nixon then signed the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which put the nail in the coffin for hemp farmers, lumping it together with marijuana and outlawing both as the same substance [14].

But the 2014 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) list of Schedule 1 substances, allowing for hemp cultivation and research.

The 2018 Farm Bill blazed the trail for hemp’s current status, allowing people to produce, sell, and consume hemp-derived products. Legal experts assured cultivators, sellers, and consumers that all plant materials and substances derived from legally-defined hemp were finally federally-compliant [15].

Currently, federal law defines cannabis plants with less than 0.3 percent Delta-9 THC per dry weight as hemp and allows hemp production and consumption throughout the United States. However, a plant with more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC per dry weight is defined as marijuana. Federal law still treats this as a controlled substance on the DEA’s Schedule 1 list.

Some states currently allow adult use of medical and recreational marijuana containing much more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC. 

Key takeaways about the 7 Reasons Folks Enjoy Cannabis Before Sex

Whether you struggle with any type of sexual dysfunction, or simply hope to improve your sex life, cannabis has the potential to open doors. But remember to take small doses of cannabis with THC if you are new to it. The last thing you need is an overload of THC to a virginal endocannabinoid system. Look around for products that resonate with you. Ask your partner what cannabis products they might be interested in.

If cannabis seems like a promising option for you, start low and go slow. Let your natural intimacy unfold as the chemistry of the cannabinoids teaches your body and mind new ways to relax and enjoy.

Read more in The Complete Guide to Cannabis and Sex.

Medical Disclaimer / Legal Disclaimer – Information is provided for educational purposes. It does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice or medical advice. We attempt to be accurate and up-to-date, but the legality of cannabinoids and the science of cannabis are evolving. The author is neither a legal professional nor a medical expert. Before buying or using any products, you should check with your local authorities and medical providers


    1. The Discovery of the Endocannabinoid System
    2. The Endocannabinoid System – Essential and Mysterious
    3. Marijuana’s Unexpected Effects On Sex
    4. Actually, Weed Can Be Great for Your Libido
    5. Does marijuana increase sexual desire?
    6. There’s new evidence that marijuana might help women have better orgasms
    7. Sex, Intimacy, and Cannabis
    8. Love Potion #420: How Weed Affects Intimacy
    9. Cardiovascular Pharmacology of Cannabinoids 
    10. How cannabis relieves different types of pain
    11. Cannabis for Better Sex? Here’s What the Science Says
    12. A global history of weed and sex
    13. Cannabis & Sex: A Brief World History
    14. 1970 | Controlled Substances Act Bans U.S. hemp production
    15. HIA Position Statement on Delta-8 and Hemp Cannabinoids

Frequently Asked Questions

Respondents to a 2019 survey by the National Institutes of Health called How Cannabis Alters Sexual Experience: A Survey of Men and Women, reported an increase in sex drive, and increased sexual satisfaction. Cannabis may not have the same effect in everyone.

Both of these cannabinoids have the potential to help with libido, but everyone’s system and reactions are different so it’s important to experiment to find what works best for you and your partner. 

Anecdotal reports and studies have shown that when people use cannabis they feel a higher sex drive and increased feelings of pleasure. Some women also report easier-to-achieve and better orgasms.

It depends on what’s in them. Good quality cannabis edibles may help increase libido, increase sensations and relaxation, and improve your sex life.